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DMS

Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowal

This is like Soulless, but with less action and more self deprecation. And somehow all the more frustrating for having a perfect metaphor in play for an interesting conversation about gender.

 

That is to say, Glamour, what is even the point of it?

 

I kept waiting for the moment when the magic would be used to make some kind of point or illustrate some kind of interesting thought experiment. A powerful form of magic that is coded as feminine and overlooked as having military applications? One that all good women are expected to do, but men can make careers of and be considered great at? So much to work with here.

 

But, no, what we get is a couple of reminders about the health risks of artificial beauty enhancement and a completely inconsistent set of rules for this magic. Are you fucking kidding me. Why even bother to have magic.

 

I guess what I am saying here is that I found this in no way satisfying as a fantasy reader. The magic is under examined for most of the story and used haphazardly in the action packed climax. You know, if stumbling around in the dark counts as action.

 

I also found nothing satisfying about the romance arc. Long term readers will know I am not a romance reader so it is possible I am the problem. Basically, Jane falls for the first man who is nice to her, then some other man appears who is a dick to her almost every time they meet - I wonder which she will end up with.

 

Oh, no I don't. I just. Don't. Care. Who this total doormat of a heroine. Or her obnoxious, shallow sister. End up with. 

 

I've read a lot of Kowal's short fiction, which is lovely. I know a lot of people love this series. I am pretty sure it isn't for me.