Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sumiko's Reads ~ Shades of Milk & Honey - Not So Charming

Hi, everyone, well, it's been a little while since Sumkio has sent me a review, and since I saw her throughout the week while driving her to work, I encouraged her to send me whatever she wanted. Today is another review, and this was not one of her favorite books.
You know how it is when someone recommends a book to you, and it turns out that you really didn't like it, for one reason or another? Well, Sumiko has read such a book  recently and she's here to tell you what and why.

I read Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal on the recommendation of friends who found it charming.  I was most convince to try it because she has invented a game as an extra to her book.

But I found myself disappointed by the book for two reasons:  the setting draws obvious comparisons to Jane Austen - whom I love but I felt that her characters and some of their situations were much too close to some of Austen's.  And the changes she made did not make them better.  And in use of magic in that setting, I prefer Galen Beckett's books "The Magicians and Mrs. Quent" and "The House on Durrow Street."
In Kowal's book magic is a frippery. A useful accomplishment for a young lady but not something a gentlemen would bother with.  And the magic in this book . . . well, why not make it a talent for art?  It would not change the story. I suppose I was disappointed that the characters were not as charming or as original as I would have wished and the fantastic elements were not fantastic enough.

Compare that to the use of magic in Beckett's books:  it occurs in a number of different ways and levels.  It can be as small as adding something additional to decor for a party or as grand and dangerous as the sort the magician's study to defend the empire.  And then there is the magic of the witches - more tied to natural features of the woods - both feared and not understood. I feel that the magic or fantastic element in Beckett's books are much fully realized and integral to the story.

So, if a light Regency Romance is what you're after perhaps you will enjoy Shades of Milk and Honey - but if you want a little more of a fantasy, I believe that Beckett's books - still set in a "Regency-like" setting will be more intriguing.


  1. Nice review. Best to be honest sometimes.

  2. Sometimes another reader will not agree with someone else's take on a book. I'm just saying . . .


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