Review: Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass

Geek Culture

Glamour in GlassGlamour in GlassLove… Angst… Glamour…

In the past, I have reviewed the promotional video for Shades of Milk and Honey and even interviewed Mary Robinette Kowal about her book, puppetry, and a wide variety of other things. But I had yet to read any of her books. (Horrible, I know.) That has now been remedied. I have now read Shades of Milk and Honey and the brand new book coming out in April as a sequel, Glamour in Glass.

While these books are connected to each other, and have many of the same characters, the tones and subject matter of the books is markedly different. While the first reads like a slightly more modern Jane Austen tale, complete with trying to catch a husband, dancing at a ball, and holding one’s tongue, the second has more history, adventure, war, and mystery.

Both books contain plenty of a decidedly non-Jane Austen element, magic, called “glamour” in these books. Glamour is woven into many aspects of life, and is considered to be one of the womanly arts, along with music, painting, and needlework. It is pulled out of the ether by glamourists, and woven into things to create movement, color, emphasis, scenery, decoration, or even to change one’s appearance.

The added inclusion of magic makes these books even more appealing to those who appreciate fantasy. The second book, especially, delves deeply into how this kind of magic actually works. You get to read along as the main characters discover new ways of using glamour.

Especially in Shades of Milk and Honey, I recognized some of the personality traits from many of Jane Austen’s characters, though each character was still their own person. No one was a copy. It is an original story full of unusual Regency concerns and interesting characters.

Shades of Milk and HoneyShades of Milk and HoneySince Glamour in Glass has a slightly different kind of style and content, it took me longer to get into it, but I then quickly became invested in the story and the plight of the characters. It also helped that they had been quite endeared to me in Shades of Milk and Honey. Glamour in Glass picks up where the first book left off. It could potentially stand on its own, but it is best to have read the books in order. Everything makes more sense that way.

Unlike with Jane Austen’s books, for these, you don’t really need to know the minute details of how life operated in Regency England. There are fewer obscure references, though there are some, just enough to appeal to those of us who adore Jane Austen. But details are explained instead of knowledge assumed, such as when it is appropriate for young women to call each other by their first names.

Shades of Milk and Honey retails for $14.99 for paperback. Glamour in Glass will be available on April 10, retailing for $24.99. Both are excellent reads for anyone who is a fan of Jane Austen, of period literature in general, or magic. And both are great, satisfying reads, but not quite in the conventional Jane Austen sense.

Note: I received copies of both of these books for review purposes.

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