This review comes much sooner than I expected. I really enjoyed Flora Segunda, the first book in this trilogy, but I didn’t think I’d miss the characters so much that I would return so soon. In fact, a mere couple of days after finishing book one, I started reading this second part. And what can I say? Ysabeau S. Wilce didn’t disappoint. She delivered an even better book this time around, so now I can’t wait but start with the final instalment in the trilogy.
Published: Harcourt Children’s Books, 2008
Series: Flora Segunda #2
My rating: 8/10
First sentence: What I Learned Last Term. An Essay by Flora Nemain Fyrdraaca ov Fyrdraaca, Senior Class, Sanctuary School, City of Califa, Republic of Califa.
Flora Fyrdraaca wants nothing more than to be a ranger, and for that she must master the magickal—and dangerous—language of Gramatica. But before she can find the ideal teacher, her aspirations are put to the test. Would a true ranger be intimidated by a tentacle that reaches for her from the depths of a toilet? Be daunted by her best friend’s transformation into a notorious outlaw, thanks to a pair of sparkly stolen boots? Be cowed by the revelation that only she can rescue the city of Califa from the violent earthquakes that threaten its survival?
Never. Saving her city and her best friend are the least a Girl of Spirit can do—yet what Flora doesn’t expect are the life-altering revelations she learns about her family and herself.
The second volume dealing with our red-haired, now almost 15-year-old heroine, deals with more grown-up themes than its predecessor. Flora begins to have feelings that are new to her. She gets jealous, kids her age start making out and talking about sex. They get drunk and smoke and generally behave as teenagers do. Hormones go crazy but of course the kids think everybody else is insane. Flora becomes more aware of the emotional side of things. Her relationship with Udo becomes strained – and not only because he has his eye on a girl (other than Flora). Flora herself also feels drawn to the other sex for the first time but tries to keep a cool head as any good ranger would.
Apart from the themes, I adored how many subplots were going on in this volume. Flora is still dreaming of becoming a ranger and I suppose this story arc will continue into book 3, but she’s also dealing with more urgent issues. The city of Califa is in danger of being turned into a heap of rubble, Udo is going bat-shit crazy, Flora’s sister Idden got herself into a great deal of trouble, and Flora’s now sober dad makes life in general a living hell. What is one girl supposed to do? Well, Flora follows Nini Mo’s advice and somehow makes it through.
I lit the lantern, ate a bar of chocolate, put on dry socks, and felt much better. You’d be amazed, said Nini Mo, how much dry socks matter.
It is not only the themes that have matured but also Ysabeau S. Wilce’s writing style. Flora’s often childish wording is on purpose, I’m sure, but instead of calling a sandwich a sandwie, Flora actually swears a lot. The author keeps it child-friendly by using “fike” and “scit” instead of our real-world counterparts. But the idea still gets across. And I like my heroes filthy-mouthed. Even without this little bonus, the author had me firmly in her grip and I followed Flora’s magical mishaps, her accidental time travels and the big showdown with great pleasure.
Wilce also does a great job of telling a standalone story wrapped in an overarching plot. Flora doesn’t just save the city of Califa (come on, that’s not a spoiler) but she also learns new truths about herself, her family, and the past. And, personally, I enjoyed her struggles to deal with her own identity most about these books. Also, Udo is awesome! In fact, all the characters are believably flawed, and I grew from merely liking them to loving and caring about them.
If you liked the first Flora adventure, you will love this one. Everything that wasn’t quite perfect about Flora Segunda has become a lot better in Flora’s Dare. And I have very high hopes for the third part, Flora’s Fury.
THE GOOD: A plot that keeps you hooked, great characters and believable development. Thrilling and adorable.
THE BAD: Being a children’s book, the romance bit felt a bit clumsy to me (though no less touching).
BONUS: Time travel!
THE VERDICT: If you like original stories full of imagination, pick up the Flora books. They have taken my heart by storm.
RATING: 8/10 Excellent
The Flora Segunda Trilogy: