No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Friday, June 15, 2012

2012/27: Flora's Fury -- Ysabeau Wilce

A famous criminal, assisted by a protection egregore and a flying octopus, have a knock-down drag-out ruckus in my lobby over a girl hiding behind a false name, who has arrived at my hotel in the company of a Pacifica express agent. Most people would be very curious. But I am not nosy by nature. All I care about is who is going to pay for the damages.
Flora's Fury: How a Girl of Spirit and a Red Dog Confound Their Friends, Astound Their Enemies, and Learn the Importance of Packing is the third in the series that began with 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, continued with Flora's Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room), and (thankfully) shows no signs of stopping, or even slowing down.


Flora is no longer a schoolgirl. Now she is Lieutenant Fyrdraaca, seconded to the Commanding General's Office -- which means she's reporting to Buck Fyrdraaca, the woman who Flora has only recently discovered isn't her birth mother at all. Her true mother, Azota a.k.a. Tiny Doom, was allegedly executed by the Birdies -- Califa's Huitzil overlords -- shortly after Flora's birth. Flora's increasingly certain that Tiny Doom is alive and well, and she is not impressed by her mother's failure to make contact. Indeed, the novel opens with Flora preparing to locate Tiny Doom by arcane means. Circumstance, in the shape of unscheduled baby-sitting duties, intervene. But Flora doesn't see why one can't take one's five-month-old half-brother to a secluded Grotto to perform a magickal working ...

Flora is an excellent heroine: resourceful, witty, determined, romantic ... and bloody livid about all the ways in which she's been lied to. She isn't a Fyrdraaca at all, as she'd thought all her life; her erstwhile beau Udo has run off with the Warlord's granddaughter, Zu-Zu (who unwittingly (?) sticks the knife in by dressing as Azota for a masquerade); her military career consists not of glory, but of child-minding and running errands; she is a pawn in grand political schemes that she barely glimpses and certainly hasn't consented to be part of; and, though prone to travel sickness, she's travelling -- by land and by sea -- for almost the entire novel.

Like all good quest novels, Flora learns about herself as much as about her world and her circumstances. Part of that process is accepting that she's been wrong about a lot of things. And in the process of discovering (some of) what's really going on, she pays a price that's higher than she realises.

Still! In Flora's Fury, Wilce tantalises with further hints at the history and geography of this alternate world where the Aztecs (or their cognates) rule the southwest of the North American continent, and the United States never came into being. There are pirates, zombies and shapechangers (some better-dressed than others); there are dime novels (including the 'Red Top Rev, Vigilante Prince' series, based loosely on Flora's father, which I really want to read); there are supernatural entities from Springheeled Jack to the Lord of the Smoking Mirror; there are love spells, crossroad magicks and the Anima of Califa's greatest hero (who is fond of bathing). Flora faces it all indomitably, determined to make her own fate.

And now I have to wait for the next instalment ...

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