Up-and-coming fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal enchanted fans with award-winning short stories and beloved novels featuring Regency pair Jane and Vincent Ellsworth. In Without a Summer the master glamourists return home, but in a world where magic is real, nothing - even the domestic sphere - is quite what it seems.
Jane and Vincent go to Long Parkmeade to spend time with Jane’s family, but quickly turn restless. The year is unseasonably cold. No one wants to be outside and Mr. Ellsworth is concerned by the harvest, since a bad one may imperil Melody’s dowry. And Melody has concerns of her own, given the inadequate selection of eligible bachelors. When Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent family in London, they decide to take it, and take Melody with them. They hope the change of scenery will do her good and her marriage prospects - and mood - will be brighter in London.
Once there, talk is of nothing but the crop failures caused by the cold and increased unemployment of the coldmongers, which have provoked riots in several cities to the north. With each passing day, it’s more difficult to avoid getting embroiled in the intrigue, none of which really helps Melody’s chances for romance. It’s not long before Jane and Vincent realize that in addition to getting Melody to the church on time, they must take on one small task: solving a crisis of international proportions.
I would recommend this book to a friend, if that friend has read at least one of the previous two books in the series. I hope that the author continues with this series because I am hooked; she's doing a very good job of incorporating real world events into a fantasy setting.
What I liked: character development of Jane and Vincent. Melody also had her moments as well. About halfway through this book I finally understood why Vincent is such a debbie downer, which was very rewarding.
What I didn't like: I would have liked more glamour. One of the reasons why I find this series so fascinating is the whole 'Jane Austin with Magic' thing. In this story the glamour used by the coldmongers moved the plot off screen and rarely on screen. The author has developed a beautiful form of magic and it's a shame that so much of the coldmonger glamour was off screen.
Net total, this was a good book because it brought more emotional depth to all the main characters.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I have read the previous books in this series so it was lovely to have Mary read this one to me. She has an amazing narration voice and I was thrilled to have it for this book.
Two small quibbles on the narration
It took me a long time to understand it was Miss Declare vs Mister Claire. That lead to some issues on my part.
I thought that Mary’s choice for Melody was a little too carefree but I understand why the choice was made.
On the story:
I ended up rather disliking Jane. Even tho she improved by the end I was extremely disappointed by racist and religious discrimination of Mr O’Brian even if historically accurate.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
These just get better and better. This one was particularly impressive insofar as the author confronts some of the darker aspects of the main character's personality and the time period in which it takes place.
She still struggles a bit with accents. The accents of the London coldmongers don't quite sound right, but there aren't the odd-sounding French characters in this book unlike the last one.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Every Jane & Vincent novel is a whole new genre within historical fantasy. It's actually rather incredible on its own. This time it's a political thriller with a courtroom cross-examination scene worthy of a good (but not great) Ace Attorney trial. Because that's what pops into my head when I think, "Jane Austen with magic, book 3".
Loved it. Great story, highly skilled narrator, complex characters. What more could one ask for?
Ive changed my mind. Kowal's style is more like Dumas than Austin or Bronte. And it ought to fit on the adventure section. This book in the series had the least interesting summary to me but is most definately my favorite.