This is the second in Mary Robinette Kowal’s fantasy novels set in the Regency era. It continues the story of Jane and David Vincent, now married, and travelling to Belgium for a late honeymoon, and to study more glamour techniques with an old colleague of Vincent’s. While there, Jane theorizes that glamour could possibly be recorded in glass, and they begin to work on that theory. During their stay, Napoleon returns to France from his exile in Elba, and the Vincents are caught up in the political atmosphere. When Napoleon’s forces arrest Vincent, in order to try to use his adeptness with glamour in the coming war, Jane is left to attempt to rescue him, and escape back to England.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, and found this one to be just as charming. These are gentle fantasies, with none of the broad scope, heroic battles, or non-human races of much of the genre. They are, however, full of characters with depth and emotion, and a world echoes in every sense the Regency era they are set in. The magical aspect, here called glamour, fits in quite seamlessly, and would have been right at home in this Jane Austen-esque setting. The glamour itself is more fleshed out here, and not just the decorative fancy it might have seemed in the first book. Here, we see that it can have more worldly uses, even if the first mention is as a tool of war.
The prose flows very smoothly, with just the right touches to give it a true period feel, without confusing a modern reader with too many archaic terms.
If you are a fantasy lover, and are looking for a lighter, less weighty read than much of the genre for the summer, you might want to look into these books. They are a delight.