The New York Times engages in full-page gushery about my favorite novel of the year thus far: Ysabeau‘s Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog:
Ysabeau S. Wilce’s name already sounds like something the infinitely inventive Terry Pratchett might have concocted — he has an Ysabell, Death’s adopted daughter, in his Discworld series, though he’s been known to lampoon middle initials (in “Maskerade,” a character gives herself an “X” — which stands for “someone who has a cool and exciting middle initial”).
But the test of course is in the tale and its telling. “You think things have to be possible?” Will Parry cried in Pullman’s “Subtle Knife.” “Things have to be true!” A fitting motto for the writer of fantasy, who must create a believable young hero or heroine in a memorable alternate world. Otherwise readers, especially young ones, will eject right out of it.
Not to worry: Wilce has matters well in hand in this, her first novel. Thirteen-year-old Flora Segunda is a charming narrator, and her domain — the city of Califa — is an intriguing mix of the preindustrial and the post-multicultural, with a bracing dose of magic, martial life, time travel and family drama mixed in.
Yay! Read it!