#Wyrd and Wonder Day 12: Desert Island Reads

I’ve always hated when people ask me about my one favorite book or which 10 reads I’d bring to a desert island. Why are you putting me thorugh the stress of even thinking about this?! I’m not making you choose your favorite child, am I?
Well, for Wyrd and Wonder, I’m embracing the anxiety and I know that, whatever I post here, I will immediately regret at least half of my choices and think of different, better ones. Let’s do it anyway. Because this is fun. Right?

You can find the rules here. The very basic summary is: Choose 8 books, 1 movie/TV show and 1 luxury item/whatever you want to bring to bring on a desert island with you. TV shows include all episodes, movies include all volumes if part of a fanchise. Book series count as individual books unless there’s a bindup version (Lord of the Rings would count as one book, for example).

IMAGE CREDIT: pegasus image by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

MY DESERT ISLAND READS… I’m not taking any chances here. Nothing that I haven’t read, unless it’s by one of my favorite authors.

  • The Tiffany Aching Series by Terry Pratchett
    Yes, there actually is an omnibus edition of these five books and you can imagine how happy I was that I didn’t have to choose just one Discworld book for my desert island. Although I would have loved to take all the Witch books.
  • Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine
    I’ve been meaning to re-read this book forever. It’s rather short but Valentine creates a whole world within its pages. It’s got steampunk elements, complex character dynamics, secrets and mysteries, and it’s about a wandering circus in a strangely broken world.
  • Flora’s Dare by Ysabeau S. Wilce
    Choosing the middle book of a trilogy may seem weird but it’s my favorite. It has some really great twists, the characters have grown up a bit from the first book and I just adore Wilce’s world building and writing style. Her alternate California and clever protagonist Flora are just amazing.
  • The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales Angela Slatter
    I have read the first two story collections in this loosely connected series and they are both favorites of mine. This new one is probably just as amazing so I’m bringing it even though I haven’t read it yet.
  • Nation by Terry Pratchett
    Well, you can’t have too many Pratchett books and this one especially fits the island setting. It’s a non-Discworld book but it has made me laugh and cry and fall in love with its characters. Pratchett’s deep understanding of and compassion for humanity gets to truly shine here.
  • Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney
    For someone who doesn’t read many collections, I sure do love a lot of them. Cooney is a poet and it shows in her prose writing as well. Her tales are fantastical, bizarre, creepy, atmospheric, inspired by fairy tales but utterly original. I adore her!
  • The Fairyland Series 1-3 by Catherynne M. Valente
    Unfortunately, only the first three books exist in a collected format but I’ll take what I can get. I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of Cat Valente, her writing, her ideas, and especially what she did in this series. Infinitely re-readable.
  • In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
    Yeah, it kills me that there’s no edition with both volumes of The Orphan’s Tales but, fine, I’ll take the first and that’s that. Unless I should take Deathless instead?! Have I mentioned that I hate this game?

TV, MOVIE OR PODCAST… This is just mean. I want to go with a TV show, simply because more episodes means more hours of entertainment. But leaving Willow off the island? Or The Neverending Story? I guess the smart choice would be Friends but that’s not fantasy and I’m not that smart anyway. Battlestar Galactica (2003) and Deep Space Nine also aren’t fantasy so I guess I’ll just have to choose my perennial favorite Labyrinth. I’ve loved this movie since I was a child and I’m still not tired of it.

I CAN’T DO WITHOUT… I wanted to bring my boyfriend but he is far from inanimate and the rules say to bring only things. Favorite foods will only last until they’re eaten, so I think I’ll pick something more useful. How about one of those Swiss Army knives that can do practically anything? I can open coconuts, cut some wood, gut all the fish I’m catching… Yeah, I’ll go with that. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Bookish Quotes

Life has been a bit stressful lately, so I haven’t posted as much as I would have liked. But I’m still reading and catching up on 2020 releases, so you can expect new reviews soon. Pinkie promise!

Until then, I thought I’d participate in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, which is all about bookish quotes. I dove deep into my reading history and, unsurprisingly, ended up with quotes from my favorite books and authors.

My favorite bookish quotes


Because Laini Taylor is a genius and Strange the Dreamer is full of beautiful quotes, I cheated and chose two:

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

– Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor


It comes as no surprise that my very favorite author is featured on this list. She may make more than one appearance… Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless broke my heart in so many ways, it’s ridiculous. And while there are many lines in that book that I can re-read over and over again without them losing their power, here’s my favorites:

“You will always fall in love, and it will always be like having your throat cut, just that fast.”

– Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente


And I have to add another Laini Taylor book. Her collection of shorter works Lips Touch: Three Times is the reason I gave this author another chance when I bounced off another of her books hard. I’m so glad I tried again because now she’s one of my favorites.


“There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave. You could walk across a high school campus and point them out: not her, not her, her. The pert, lovely ones with butterfly tattoos in secret places, sitting on their boyfriends’ laps? No, not them. The girls watching the lovely ones sitting on their boyfriends’ laps? Yes.
The goblins want girls who dream so hard about being pretty their yearning leaves a palpable trail, a scent goblins can follow like sharks on a soft bloom of blood. The girls with hungry eyes who pray each night to wake up as someone else. Urgent, unkissed, wishful girls.”

– Goblin Fruit by Laini Taylor


So, every single one of the five volumes in the Fairyland Series is filled to the brim with quotable lines. I have chosen only a few to give you a taste. If you haven’t yet, go try and read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and then devour the rest of the series because it is filled with the kind of wonder you last felt as a kid, plus Cat Valente’s trademark lyrical prose.

Summer Reading: Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland Series — home | school | life

“A silent Library is a sad Library. A Library without patrons on whom to pile books and tales and knowing and magazines full of up-to-the-minute politickal fashions and atlases and plays in pentameter! A Library should be full of exclamations! Shouts of delight and horror as the wonders of the world are discovered or the lies of the heavens uncovered or the wild adventures of devil-knows-who sent romping out of the pages. A Library should be full of now-just-a-minutes and that-can’t-be-rights and scientifick folk running skelter to prove somebody wrong. It should positively vibrate with laughing at comedies and sobbing at tragedies, it should echo with gasps as decent ladies glimpse indecent things and indecent ladies stumble upon secret and scandalous decencies! A Library should not shush; it should roar!”

– The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente


“A book is a door, you know. Always and forever. A book is a door into another place and another heart and another world.”

– The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente


And another infinitely quotable writer appears on this list. Terry Pratchett was a treasure and a fountain of insight into human nature. The fact that he holds up a mirror to our society with humor only makes his books better! Reaper Man is one of his books that touched me particularly because even though Death takes a vacation in this story, his job is never really done, is it?

“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”

– Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett


I discovered Theodora Goss via Cat Valente because they both write mythpunk. The short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting blew me away with its imaginative stories, deep themes, and of course, beautiful quotes.

“This is the sort of thing people like: the implication that, despite their minivans and microwaves, if they found the door in the wall, they too could enter fairyland.”

Pip and the Fairies by Theodora Goss


Maggie Stiefvater is one of those author who can pull you into a story that you follow along nicely, and then she hits you with a line so perfect it’s like a punch in the guts. But, you know, in a good way. I urge you to read her entire Raven Cycle, and then throw in the Scorpio Races and have your heart torn out. Because why should it just be me. I would have added my favorite quote from that book as well but it’s the very last line and I don’t want to spoil it for you.

“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”

– The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


Come on, let me have another Pratchett quote! This is a non-Discworld novel so if academic wizards, headology-using witches, or cynical city guards aren’t for you, pick this one up. Nation has so many layers and all of them are beautiful. Ever since I read it, I’ve been giving this book as a gift to everyone I could think of.

“Someone had to eat the first oyster, you know.
Someone looked at a half shell full of snot and was brave.”


“Take one strip of the vine lengthwise and yes, it needs the strength of two men to pull it apart. But weave five strands of it into a rope and a hundred men can’t break it. The more they pull, the more it binds together and the stronger it becomes. That is the Nation.”

– Nation by Terry Pratchett


This criminally underread trilogy is such a gem! Flora Segunda, Flora’s Dare, and Flora’s Fury are the kind of books that make you feel like coming home after a long trip. You fall into this world’s alternate Calfornia and follow young Flora and her best friend Udo on crazy adventures. There’s twists and turns and quite a few emotional moments. Wilce’s use of language is quite brilliant and sets this series apart from other Middle Grade/YA tales.

Paperback Wonderland: August 2013

“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.”

– Flora’s Dare by Ysabeau S. Wilce


“It’s like Nini Mo said, They may be snapperheads, but they are my snapperheads.”

– Flora’s Fury by Ysabeau S. Wilce


This was one of those surprise books that I didn’t expect too much of and then it swept me away with its prose, its intricate characters, and the story it tells. Putting it on this list makes me want to re-read it immediately. Mechanique was so good, you guys! And it didn’t get nearly the attention it should have.

One day the wolf was wild enough to run into the forest near their camp, hunting something only it could sense. A week later when they pulled down the tent, the wolf had not come back. “Call it, if you want,” Boss told Jonah. “We’ll wait.”
That night Jonah stood for an hour at the edge of the camp, looking into the darkness of the woods. He came back empty-handed.
Ayar frowned. “It didn’t come?”
Jonah said, “I didn’t call.”

– Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine


Ysabeau S. Wilce – Prophecies, Libels & Dreams: Stories

Oh, Califa! How I have missed you. There are very few books (usually series of books) that give me this warm feeling of coming home after a long, uncomfortable journey. Harry Potter is the prime example, Cat Valente’s Fairyland books are another. After I gobbled up the three volumes published in the Flora Segunda series, I did have a huge book hangover, but I didn’t know just how much I had fallen in love with Wilce’s style and the world she created. I’m glad to be back and actually thinking about re-reading Flora during the Christmas holidays.

by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Published by: Small Beer Press, 2014
Paperback: 262 pages
Short story collection
My rating: 9/10

First sentence: Ah, Califa! Cool white city surrounded on three sides by water, braced by fog and sea breezes.

These inter-connected stories are set in an opulent quasi-historical world of magick and high manners called the Republic of Califa. The Republic is a strangely familiar place—a baroque approximation of Gold Rush era-California with an overlay of Aztec ceremony—yet the characters who populate it are true originals: rockstar magicians, murderous gloves, bouncing boy terrors, blue tinted butlers, sentient squids, and a three-year-old Little Tiny Doom and her vengeful pink plush pig. By turn whimsical and horrific (sometime in the same paragraph), Wilce’s stories have been characterized as “screwball comedies for goths” but they could also be described as “historical fantasies” or “fanciful histories” for there are nuggets of historical fact hidden in them there lies.
Ysabeau S. Wilce is the author of Flora Segunda, Andre Norton Award–winner Flora’s Dare, and Flora’s Fury, and she has published work in Asimov’s, Steampunk!, and Fantasy & Science Fiction. She lives in San Francisco, California.


Ysabeau Wilce has already stolen my heart with her enchanting, wonderful Flora Segunda trilogy (Flora Segunda, Flora’s Dare, Flora’s Fury) but it wasn’t until this collection of short stories that I realised just how talented and brilliant she really is. I’ve been following her on Twitter, hoping for an announcement of new books, so naturally I pounced when this one showed up.

What delights me more than anything is how original Wilce is in everything she writes. The historian in her clearly shines through, as does her experience with the military. Califa is a wild mixture of the Wild West, magic, mythology, Aztec rituals, crazy scientists, and so much more. If you don’t fall in love with her style – which varies quite a bit in these stories – then I can’t help you. These stories are more grown-up than the Flora books, in more ways than one. They are not all for children, first and foremost. But it is also the writing as such that has matured. Ysabeau Wilce was not idle in the years I’ve been pining for more of her writing. She has been honing her craft and I will read everything else she decides to publish. Just don’t make the wait too long, okay?

And here’s what I thought of the stories contained in Prophecies, Libels & Dreams.

The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror! [read on Lightspeed]

bouncing boy terrorSpring-Heeled Jack features quite a bit in the Flora Segunda books, although not in the capacity you might think. Even a well-known bouncing terror must begin his terrorizing at some point. This fun little story tells of these beginnings, of how a young, poor boy named Jack came into the possession of a pair of red, sparkly boots. What makes this story shine is the playful language that is strangely aware of itself.
I read the story and almost cried because I was so happy to be back. Wilce’s style is dynamic and engaging and I can’t believe that she’s not all over the bloggosphere. Everybody should be raving about her, she should be signing 10-book-deals. Oh well, I’m happy I got a little more of her magic and I won’t give up hope for more Flora books.

Quartermaster Returns [read on Tor.com]

From this point onwards, I will only become more and more delighted. In “Quartermaster Returns”, Wilce returns to the military and to Buck, earlier in her career. Set in the heat of the desert, the quartermaster does indeed return – from the dead, that is. With charming language and clever plot twists, the author magicked up a fascinating tale that is as entertaining as it is witty.
I loved every section of this little story. It has humor and darkness and clever characters, it’s told in brilliant language that made me feel like I was there. Wilce clearly knows how to create a military atmosphere without too many words. Her world-building in general is phenomenal and feels so effortless. Whether it’s the Arivaipa desert or Califa itself, they read like real places where real people (some really silly) have real adventures. And Quartermaster’s tale will make you laugh out loud.

Metal More Attractive

In “Metal More Attractive” we get to know Hardhands-  uncle to Tiny Doom and rockstar magician – and the hardships he faces a little better. Who would have thought I’d grow to like the guy so much? In order to make a life for himself and his boyfriend/lover, Hardhands is willing to go to great lengths. But things don’t go as planned and that red-headed Tiny Doom is always in the way.
Now, Tiny Doom is a character we know from the original Flora books. The appearance of the small stuffed pig was a particularly happy moment for me. Getting to know more about Tiny Doom’s past and the history of her uncle felt not only like reading a prequel to Flora’s Dare but was also a great story, all on its own. Hardhands isn’t quite Hardhands when the story starts. But he’s turning into Hardhands as it ends…

The Lineaments of Gratified Desire

This is the longest story of the collection and it follows Hardhands and Tiny Doom a few years after the events of “Metal More Attractive”. Hardhands is stuck babysitting his little niece and since it’s Pirate’s Parade Day (read: Halloween), the little red-head sneaks out, her stuffed pig under her arm, and gets into all sorts of trouble.
I loved how this story turns from quite adorable and cute into something much darker, without ever picking a side or telling the reader what’s magic, what’s real, or even what’s true. The whimsical style turns into a magical melting pot of awesome and in the middle of it all is Hardhands, whom I still quite like. He is vain and stubborn and self-centered but also strangely endearing. As for that plush pig… you’ll have a hard time not loving it.


A hilarious story featuring teenaged Tiny Doom and her inauguration into the military proper. In order to be accepted she has to perform a task she’s not looking forward to. Bring back someone’s scalp… but Tiny Doom already thought of a way around it and hilarity ensues. The press gets involved, her uncle Hardhands gets embarrassed and there’s cheers all around.
If you like stories of gentlemen highwaymen or very polite thieves in general, you will love this. Tiny Doom totally rocks this tale and manages to save several innocent (or somewhat innocent) hides before the night is over.

prophecies libels and dreams

Hand in Glove

Departing from the known and beloved characters, this is a detective story with a Frankenstein-ish spin. Our protagonist detective got stuck on the most boring duty in all of Califa while the goldenboy Wilkins gets all the good cases – and the glory. But Etreyo, our heroine, just wants to promote the use of forensics in the police force, a passion for which she is mostly ridiculed. But, good logical policewoman that she is, she secretly takes finger prints and examines the crime scenes left behind by the Califa Squeeze – a serial killer who squeezes his victims to death and steals just one small item from each of them.
Hunting the killer takes Etreyo to interesting places and even more interesting people. For fear of spoiling, I will stop here. Let it be said, however, that certain scenes are quite giggle-worthy, while sending chills down my spine at the same time. In retrospect, the entire story is rather hilarious, though, and fits perfectly into the setting.

Scaring the Shavetail

This was the only story I didn’t love. It still has the signature whimsical style and feels very much like a western. Atmosphere-wise, Wilce did a fantastic job. The plot revolves around a prank which will be played upon the Shavetail in question – an annoying superior who is way too friendly with his subordinates. Trying to make him afraid and leave their post, a group of people tell scary stories of the chupacabra and how it rips people to pieces.
Certain scenes were genuinely creepy, but I didn’t feel enough connection to the characters to truly care. Plus, I was very confused to read about states like Arizona or countries like Mexico.

This is where the afterwords come in handy. After every story, a historian – A Lady of Quality – leaves comments on how much credulity each story has. She refers her readers to various works of history, noted in footnotes (oh, I do so love footnotes). These afterwords don’t really add much to the collection as such – it would have been just as fun without them – but they lend a layer of realism and another bit of biting humor to Califa.

So even though the collection ended on a meh story for me, this has still made it onto my best of the year list. It is such an enjoyable little gem that I hope will draw more attention to a truly talented writer. Ysabeau S. Wilce deserves fame and love and huge, huge fandoms. If you’re unsure about Flora Segunda, try these short stories. They give you a (more adult) taste of what you can expect. I loved it and will put these books into the hands of anyone who comes near me.

RATING: 9/10  –  Close to perfection

divider1Other reviews:

Review: Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora’s Fury

So this is the end. I’m still hoping there will be more Flora Segunda books, although the author herself has said it won’t happen. As this charmingly original trilogy has been with me constantly over the last few weeks, it will be doubly difficult to leave that universe alone. But I hope that these reviews get some discussion going and make the world more aware of how wonderful Flora Segunda is.

by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Published by: Harcourt Children’s Books , 2012
ISBN: 015205409X
Pages: 517
Copy: hardcover
Series: Flora Segunda #3

My rating: 7/10

First sentence: Statement of Intent Magical Working No. 9

Flora’s Fury: How a Girl of Spirit and a Red Dog Confounded Their Friends, Astounded Their Enemies, and Learned the Importance of Packing Light

Despite her troublesome attraction to magick, Flora Fyrdraaca has — more or less — spent her life doing what’s been expected of her. Yet now, at sixteen, she knows that this path has been strewn with secrets. Secrets have kept her from following her passion of becoming a ranger, of perfecting her use of magick. But Flora has had enough of living with lies.

I’ve taken out a large chunk of the synopsis as it gives away the huge twist in book two and I want you to be able to read this review without having read any of the Flora books. Flora is sixteen now and works in the army. Her days are routine and mostly boring. But Flora has a plan and it leads her to an island entirely populated by criminals, through Elsewhere, to Fort Sandy in the south, where the heat is almost as oppressive as the threat of the Birdies is near.

Returning to Flora’s world has almost become natural to me and her first person narrative is a charming as ever – if slightly more inclined towards cursing. I adored being back with Flora, discovering what’s happened since the events of Flora’s Dare, and getting back to that wonderful red dog, Flynn. Her adventures take her out of Califa for the first time and while I enjoyed seeing more of this world, there was a slight lack of charm in this volume, compared to its predecessors.

That said, Flora’s travels also treat us to new characters, all well-defined and interesting in their own way. There is heartbreak along the way, as well as new friends, and while the main plotline didn’t keep me at the edge of my seat, there is no way you can not enjoy Flora’s narration. The author has created this full world with its own mythology – my favorite part is still the words and phrases used. People say “fike” when they’re angry, idiots are called “snapperheads”, and booze is “bug juice”. Such little details create a magic of their own.

It’s like Nini Mo said, They may be snapperheads, but they are my snapperheads.

I cannot stress enough how sad I am that this story is over (for now). While the story arc of this novel is closed and I even got to see a twist I’ve been waiting for since book one, there are still many loose ends to tie up. I would have loved to see more of Udo – you just got to love Udo and his fashion sense – and if it were up to me, Flora’s eccentric family would have been there with her during her travels. But Flora is also growing up and has to learn lessons on her own.

All things considered, it was a worthy third part of a series. Was it a worthy ending? No. I still have hope that more Flora books will be written and published. Hope is free, Nini Mo says.

THE GOOD: More of everything that was good in the first two books.
THE BAD: Unresolved plot threads, not enough time with some beloved characters.
THE VERDICT: Another fun adventure with the redheaded girl who loves her Nini Mo novels.
BONUS: Octohands (need I say more?)

RATING: 7/10  Very good

Flora Segunda:

  1. Flora SegundaYsabeau S. Wilce - Flora's Dare
  2. Flora’s Dare
  3. Flora’s Fury

Review: Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora’s Dare

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.

by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Published: Harcourt Children’s Books, 2008
ISBN: 0152054278
Pages: 528
Copy: hardcover
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, IFlora's Dare cover snippet 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:

  1. Flora Segunda
  2. Flora’s Dare
  3. Flora’s Fury

Review: Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora Segunda

It is entirely Ellen Kushner’s fault that I had to have this trilogy. On the SF Squeecast, her squee was so convincing and she made the books sound so utterly charming that I couldn’t resist. And I can agree with her – this is an adorable little tale of an ambitious 14-year-old who lives in the coolest house since Hogwarts.

by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Published: Harcourt Children’s Books, 2007
ISBN: 0152054332
Pages: 448
Copy: hardcover
Series: Flora Segunda #1

My rating: 7/10

First sentence: Crackpot Hall has eleven thousand rooms, but only one potty.

Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall – the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler – and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever. Full of wildly clever plot twists, this extraordinary first novel establishes Ysabeau Wilce as a compelling new voice in teen fantasy.

Flora does not want to follow in her military family’s footsteps. She dreams of becoming a ranger, like the heroine from her favorite yellowback-books, the famous Nini Mo. But rangering requires magick and all sorts of other skills – and in Flora’s family, one goes to the Barracks after one’s Catorcena, and one dares not express the wish for anything else. So Flora prepares for her fourteenth birthday, makes her dress, writes her invitations, and – by accident – stumbles into a huge adventure. Flora, her best friend Udo, and the little red dog Flynnie, have to figure out a plan to save a man’s life, survive the house butler’s whims, keep Flora’s dad (whom she calls Poppy) from wrecking the house, and the most important thing: keep all of this secret from General Fyrdraaca, Flora’s mamma.

Ysabeau S. Wilce gives her protagonist Flora a wonderfullly convincing 14-year-old voice. Flora, with her head in the clouds (or should I say in pulp novels), has something of Alice in her. She gives herself very good advice – and frequently so – but rarely follows it. Don’t think you can fool Flora. She knows how a proper adventure works and this novel is full of quotes by Flora’s heroine Nini Mo about what makes a true ranger. This gives the book an adorable tone of dreams and teenage ambition that reminded me of myself as a child.

This adventure is set in a highly interesting world. Flora lives in town called Califa which has just made a balance-act peace with the Huitzil empire. While it is never clear where exactly the story is set, it feels like an alternate Mexico where the Aztects are following gruesome rituals of human sacrifice, people speak the occasional Spanish, and pirates roam the seas. I can’t wait to see more of this crazy world. My favorite aspect was easily Crackpot Hall, Flora’s house that behaves suspiciously like Hogwarts, with shifting rooms, staircases that lead into nowhere and a ghost-like butler.

While on one occasion, I felt that Flora and Udo got what they wanted too easily, most of the story is not straight-forward at all. The author surprises us with a couple of twists along the way and the ending was so good, it made me glow on the inside with happiness. Personally, I would have enjoyed more stories of Crackpot Hall, and some of the initial magic of this tale gets lost along the way – but that is a small point of critique compared to the joy this read has brought me. Here is a fast-paced adventure of crazy proportions with a lovable cast – down to the dogs and the horse – a fantastic world and a girl who reads novels. What’s not to love?

THE GOOD: Great characters, wonderfully magical world-building, and some fantastic plot twists.
THE BAD: Unbelievable on one particular occasion, loses some of its magic in the middle part.
THE VERDCIT: Highly recommended to children and adults alike. A fun romp through an original world and characters you can’t help but love.

RATING: 7/10 Very good

The Flora Segunda Series:

  1. Flora Segunda
  2. Flora’s Dare
  3. Flora’s Fury