Review – Shades of Milk and Honey

Cover of Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette KowalShades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal

I read this one before and wasn’t enormously impressed, despite reading it one go. I think that was still pre-appreciation of Austen (sorry Mum, I can’t help it) and pre-interest in anything like romance; definitely before my interest in the likes of Georgette Heyer. So an Austenesque fantasy didn’t work for me much then. Honestly, the setting itself doesn’t quite convince me now, but that’s not because I don’t like Regency novels. It’s more that something feels off, for example when Melody says “la!” all the time. It just seems like too many period things are being sprinkled in for verisimilitude, and you don’t need all of it or so much of it.

In any case, I did appreciate this one more this time. I like the way glamour is woven into the society as a female accomplishment, like painting, which men can do professionally and women are expected just to dabble in. I liked the way things worked out between the characters; Mr Dunkirk’s reactions to Jane, and how that shapes her actions; Mr Vincent’s awkwardness about his feelings. Perhaps the romance is a little sudden, but you can see how it comes about, too.

The ending is rushed; what’s with those last few pages? I suppose it’s very like how we’re told at the end of an Austen or Heyer novel who married who and went to live where, but it jars when you’re reading a modern fantasy novel, at least for me. Ah well. At least I enjoyed the book more this time, and I’m looking forward to the sequels with hope.

Rating: 3/5

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14 thoughts on “Review – Shades of Milk and Honey

  1. I wasn’t much impressed by this either, and I’m a gigantic Austen nerd from way back and had read all of Georgette Heyer’s Regencies before I was 20. Its an extremely popular series and I may give another title a try some day, but for me the setting was just wrong in multiple ways, small and large and

  2. Dang it WordPress! I was not done. small and large and there are words used incorrectly, like a rubber of cards which does not mean a kind of card game like bridge or cribbage it means a series, like best of three or best of five. And others. There were just too many mistakes it kept kicking me out of my suspension of disbelief, and I didn’t much like the characters either. But from all I hear Mary Kowal is a lovely person.

    • I’ve enjoyed the series more as it went on and didn’t try to limit itself to Austen’s world. It felt like she tried too hard to stick to the formula here, in comparison, and thus didn’t really create anything interesting. The Vincents’ married life is more interesting and sweeter than this because you really start to believe in the relationship and see them working through their issues.

  3. Well that’s encouraging, and maybe I’ll give it another try sometime. How far into the series do you advise me to jump in order to hit a book where I’m likely to have fun?

    Also can I ask you an off topic question, or should I PM you with it over on GR or something? Need some WordPress newb help.

  4. I’m wanting to start reviewing over here, and would like to post images of book covers at the top of each review as you do. So, how do you do that? Where do you get the images and how do you put them up? Thanks!

    • I get the covers from GR or LibraryThing and then upload them to my albums on WordPress. Then I use this code: [img style=”float:right;border:0;padding:8px;” src=”URL of the image” alt=”Description of the image” width=”200″ height=”300″ /] (With html markings instead of square brackets.)

  5. I’ve read Glamour in Glass and I can’t say it grabbed me, but I’ve always considered going back to read Shades of Milk and Honey. In light of your review and your comments above though, maybe I shouldn’t look back and instead just go forward with the series.

  6. I feel like she was too close to Austen here, tbh. There are enough differences that I wasn’t slogging through the book like I was P&P, but *shrugs* it’s definitely the weakest out of the series.

    I am really glad there was a preview for the sequel in the copy I have, because I’ve really enjoyed the rest of the series and I don’t think I would have bought if if not for that glimpse.

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