Flora Segunda, by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Ysabeau S. Wilce’s Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Adventures of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), A House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog is a witty and wildly original contribution to the overstuffed YA fantasy genre. It is also a genuinely weird book, which many fantasy fans may find off-putting—your standard Eragon-style sword and sorcery bonanza this isn’t.

Wilce doesn’t waste time on exposition, nor does she seem to borrow from any particular fantasy tradition. It’s always tempting to try and compartmentalize an author’s inspiration, but Flora Segunda features everything from Aztec mythology to pirates to exciting prison escapes, so it’s a tough book to pigeonhole. Wilce’s story is a wonderfully unique experience, but readers are well advised to abandon all hope of a clearly defined mythology before opening the book.

Flora Segunda opens with Flora Fyrdraaca’s reluctant preparations for her Catorcena, the birthday party that will mark her entrance to adulthood. Flora lives in an enchanted house, but life isn’t full of Hogwarts-style hijinks. Her mother, a General, spends most of her time off fighting a slowly deteriorating war. Her father is a former P.O.W. of questionable sanity who hardly ever leaves his rooms. Worst of all, the family’s butler, Valefor, the physical embodiment of the house’s magical energy, has been banished, leaving Flora scrambling to keep her home and family in some semblance of order.

Wilce’s novel is an intriguing jumble of ideas and styles, and I’m sure that many readers will find it as fascinating as I did. However, the novel ends with several dangling plot threads, and the idea of a sequel leaves me excited but apprehensive. Wilce’s strange, sinister world is only vaguely defined in Flora Segunda, which makes it difficult to tell how sure a grip she has on her own mythology. Only time—and sequels—will tell. Flora Segunda is a wonderful book, but its place in the YA cannon will depend on how deftly Wilce handles future installments.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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