Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Summary: I enjoyed the idea behind this book and the hints of Austen, but there wasn’t much depth or originality.
Billed as Jane Austen plus magic, I could resist picking this book up. As in Austen, the characters’ main concerns focus on society and especially marriage arrangements. Unfortunately for our main character Jane, although she is skilled in the womanly magic of glamour, her younger sister’s beauty attracts all the attention. Her sister lacks Jane’s good sense though and so it will fall to Jane to use her magic to protect her sister from less than honorable suitors. And in doing so, she just might find her perfect match as well.
I loved the idea for this book. Surely the only thing that could be better than Austen is Austen plus magic! The author did sometimes manage to capture Austen’s writing style and I enjoyed the magic system she created. However, she lacked Austen’s wit. Characters behavior was still shown to be absurd, but it was done in a more heavy handed way. I had more mixed feelings about the characters. Every character was clearly modeled on a specific character in Austen’s books. To an extent, I enjoyed the homage to Austen, but I hoped for more originality. The magic actually didn’t add much new either. It played an extremely minor role in the plot.
I would have forgiven the book for the flaws above had the plot been completely enjoyable. As is, it was fun, but the plot also had it’s problems. Jane’s younger sister was so incredibly selfish, she was frustrating enough that it was hard to enjoy. She didn’t even experience any believable character growth. The romance was also unbelievable. I found Jane’s attraction to the romantic lead sudden and I am unable to understand what they liked about each other. For all that I have mostly bad things to say about this book, I did have fun reading it and tore through it in an afternoon. I just wish I’d enjoyed it enough to want to tear through the rest of the series too.