Friday Review: Without A Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal

Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories, #3)Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third book in Kowal’s Glamourist Histories, and it is quite as good as the other two. In Without A Summer, Jane and Vincent are commissioned to construct a glamour in London. They bring Jane’s sister, Melody, along because Melody’s “prospects” (chances of finding a husband) will be better during London’s society season than at the family estate. While working, Jane uncovers evidence of a plot to change the balance of power in the government.

The story takes place in 1816, the Year Without a Summer, and the weather figures into the plot on several levels. We are also introduced to Vincent’s family, and learn more about the coldmonger glamourists. But the main element here is still the relationship between Jane and Vincent. Their lives had been torn apart in more than one way in the last installment, and they are still recovering from the emotional scars. Woven around the political intrigue is the relationship that is central to these stories, and it is portrayed in real terms with all the fear, doubt, tenderness, and love that make up a marriage. We learn more about not only Jane and Vincent, but also Melody, who is, if not central to the story, at least a strong secondary character.

The world continues to grow around the Regency era setting. The addition of glamour, the magical ability to create illusion by bending strands of light, is a good fit for the time period. We are treated to wonderful gowns and bonnets, manor houses and estates, and the upper levels of London society of the period. At the same time, the story doesn’t suffer. Kowal draws together the strands of social commentary, budding technology and those who don’t trust it, science versus superstition, and political intrigue as deftly as Jane creates a glamour.

These are wonderful, intriguing stories that have been called “Jane Austen with magic” and the description is accurate. Fans of historical fiction, fantasy, and light romance will all find these enjoyable.

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Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

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