Review of Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1), by Mary Robinette Kowal

I borrowed an audio copy of Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Shades of Milk and Honey through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men. 

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

Review:

This is the third book in a row that I’ve finished disappointed in. I found it uninspiring. Yes, I see all the Jane Austen parallels. But they didn’t endear the book to me. I thought Jane was a bit of a doormat. She seemed smart, so I was bothered that she’d kept forgiving her sister Melody. The sister who was basically just jealous and manipulative. 

The fortune hunter aspect was blatantly obvious. Again, Jane was smart. How was I really to believe she didn’t see the situation for exactly what it was?

A whole presumed romance was set up and then a marriage proposal came from someone the reader hadn’t been given to feel invested in. (Was that meant to be a twist? It just felt hollow.) Basically, despite being told Jane’s feelings for one man for an entire book, the fact that another had feelings for her was supposed to be enough to make it magical. Bah. Boring. 

The actual magic in the book was pointless. It would have made more sense for them to simply be artist, painters maybe. It was just clutter in the plot. 

Lastly, I really wish the author hadn’t chosen to do the audio version herself. She did a fine job in the narration sections, but lord the dialogue was stiff. It was painful combination of being written without contractions and the stilted way Kowal read it. I almost gave up several times.

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