Ysabeau Wilce’s website is unhelpful, tadalafil to say the least, order regarding the author’s actual biographic information. However, it’s rather fun if you don’t need information to, say, write a blurb for a review. However, there’s an interview with Kelly Link that gave me what I needed to know: she lives in Chicago, has a degree in military history, and came from a military family. Those things have obviously influenced her work. She has also been a museum curator, and I believe that was the job she had when she got the idea for Flora Segunda, the first of these books. I have absolutely no idea if she’s planning any future works, but the ending implies as much, and I certainly hope so. This volume has been nominated for the Norton Award, which is (I believe) the Nebula for YA speculative literature.
Flora Fydraaca, the second of that name (hence the ‘Segunda’), has actually survived her Catorcena (coming-of-age ritual on her fourteenth birthday). As a matter of fact, very little has changed — except her father sobered up, and home life is possibly even more miserable. In any case, Flora’s personal goal, now, is to learn magic — the Gramatica, which is the language that allows magic to happen. Unfortunately, there are about three people in town who can teach her, and the only one who might is Lord Axacaya — who is sort of persona non grata around the Fydraaca household. Also, Udo’s been acting very weird lately. What’s going on with him?
Some readers may remember that I had issues with Flora Segunda, mostly regarding the presentation versus the subject matter. Flora’s Dare, while still possessed of large font type, does make it significantly clearer that these are YA books, not middle-grade readers. Flora is technically an adult, because she passed her Catorcena, and that means she gets to make most of her decisions as an adult. Of course, she’s still in training (whether it’s to be a ranger how she wants or just in the standard military remains to be seen) and she’s still in a military family and therefore a subordinate to be ordered around, so nothing really changes.
The plot is fairly madcap, what with Flora racing around a lot of different places, sneaking out, sneaking in, stealing a horse (!!), traveling through time and underwater, and casting all sorts of spells. She meets an interesting character named Tiny Doom, has encounters with members of the Warlord’s family, thinks entirely too much about kissing Lord Axacaya, helps Udo kidnap an infamous criminal, escapes a riot, and all sorts of other things. She does this all with a charming lack of grace, an expected amount of self-awareness, and more makeup than I ever would have expected.
Flora discovers a lot in this book, and not just about Gramatica and being a ranger. I won’t give any of it away, but it does make the story a lot richer, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Obviously the series has grown on me, and I found Flora considerably less annoying, and Udo significantly less unrealistic. Ms. Wilce’s world-building is excellent, and I find the mixture of Aztec-like culture with a more western 19th-century aesthetic quite appealing. Clearly one should read the first volume first, but I would say it’s definitely worth it to get to the second volume. Fans of Patricia C. Wrede, separately and with Caroline V. Stevermer, will find the whimsy and chapter titles appealing, especially. 4.5/5 stars.