Synopses & Reviews
In the hallowed halls of Oxfords Merlin College, the most talentedand highest bornsons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover
Grays deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgraceand without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callenders country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professors daughter.
Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her fathers wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.
Sophie and Grays meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the kings closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost
“If Jane Austen had written a fantasy novel, Shades of Milk and Honey would have been the result. Written with painstaking attention to detail, Kowals prose is serenely evocative of the time period, and the fantastic elements are a seamless fit. The characterization is extremely well done and Jane is a sympathetic, strong and intelligent heroine whose devotion to her family trumps nearly every other concern. Give this one a try!” —RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick!
“Readers will be disappointed only when they finish this enchanting story, which is suffused with genteel charm… With the grace of Sense and Sensibility, a touch of classic fairy tale magic, and an action-packed ending, this debut novel by an award-winning fantasy short story writer will appeal to fans of Jane Austen, Jane Yolen, Patricia Wrede, Susannah Clarke, and even Jasper Fforde.” —Library Journal
“Cliché as it might sound, if Jane Austen had sat down to pen a fantasy, this is the book she would have written. The tone, the cadence, the sweep, every bow and curtsey of the language is woven into Shades of Milk and Honey… Kowals mastery is the art of the Austenite nuance… When I reached the last page I just wanted to start it all over again. It left me craving nothing but a cup of Constant Comment...and the sequel.” —Intergalactic Medicine Show
“A beautiful, lyrical, tightly-woven meld of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, and Beauty and the Beast--I couldn't put it down!” --Lilith Saintcrow
"Simply enchanting, and another great advance in an already impressive literary career. You're going to love this." --John Scalzi
"Shades of Milk and Honey is a lovely, smart, strange novel with everything on earth (and elsewhere) to recommend it. Smoothly crafted with a flair for romance and mystery, this story is one part meticulous manners and one part wild magic -- composing a whole that's utterly irresistible." --Cherie Priest
“Kowal's first novel is a beautifully told story of being true: true to love, true to family, and true to art, even when it seems that one of them must give. It's a marvelous and promising debut, and hints at more wonders to come.” --Cory Doctorow
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 Dorchesters society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melodys 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 lions share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her familys 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.
This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if only she had been a fantasy writer.
About the Author
Mary Robinette Kowal was the 2008 recipient of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Hugo nominee for her story “Evil Robot Monkey.” Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimovs, and several Year's Best anthologies. Mary is an active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and currently serves on the Board of Directors.
A professional puppeteer and voice actor, she grew up in North Carolina and spent five years touring nationally with puppet theaters. She wrote Shades of Milk and Honey while living in Iceland and performing on the hit television show Lazytown. Mary currently lives in Portland, OR with her husband Rob and nine manual typewriters.