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Mary Robinette Kowal

Pan Macmillan (2010)

ISBN: 9780765325563

Reviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts

When I first saw this book described by the author as being the book Jane Austen might have written had she lived in a world with magic, I did think that was a bit much. Obviously I wanted to read such a book, but really, comparing yourself to Austen? Isn’t that reaching a tad high, especially for a debut novelist? Also, let’s face it, a lot of authors have jumped on the Austen bandwagon. I’ve been burned by a lot of bad sequels to Pride and Prejudice, and while I never actually got around to trying that novel with added zombies, I did read a page of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and I’m never getting that thirty seconds of my life back!

But then I read this book, and I realised what was going on here.

Shades of Milk and Honey
is a novel so immersed in Austen and what for the purposes of this review I shall call Austenalia, that it seems impossible to read it any other way. It verges on parody, though the clever use of language and extreme authenticity of characters keeps it on the right side of that line. Which is not to say that there is not a hint of mockery about Austenian conventions in this book – but it’s the gentle kind of mockery that comes from someone who genuinely loves that author’s work, as opposed to, for example, the clumsy and appallingly offensive Red Dwarf episode written by Robert Llewellyn who had obviously never even watched a costume drama all the way through to the end…

Where was I?

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Kate Forsyth

Pan (2010)

ISBN: 978 0 330 42605 3

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Zed is a starkin lord, heir to the Castle of Estelliana. Merry is of hearthkin heritage, son of a rebel leader with more to his history than he knows. Liliana is wilkin, just coming into her uncanny magical powers. Thrown together by destiny, the three are fated to journey together to try to rescue a wildkin princess from her lifelong imprisonment by the starkin king. But are their fates truly what they think they are? Can prophecies really come true or be thwarted by human intervention?

Forsyth is an accomplished author – her worlds are well realised and intricately drawn and her characters have hidden depths. This book is a delight to read, although it does seem to start rather slowly, which is, I think, a problem of establishing the connection with its companion book, The Starthorn Tree. Once we become fully immersed in the story though, it sweeps along at a mighty pace, ripping through a clever and involving plot with enough twists and turns to keep even the adult reader guessing. Read the rest of this entry »

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