I first heard about SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY from John Sclazi's The Big Idea posts. Kowal described it as "[The] sort of novel Jane Austen would have written if she’d lived in a world where magic worked." That was pretty much all I needed to know before I ran out and grabbed a copy, and I was not disappointed.
The Austen fan in me loved the family drama and the send-ups to Regency literature; the fantasy fan in me appreciated the original magic system and the exciting, guns-and-secrets climactic sequence. I also loved the protagonist, Jane. She's a quick-witted heroine worthy of the Austen comparisons, who uses resourcefulness and skill with magic to get herself out of trouble.
And did I mention the dresses? It has dresses.
The second book in the series, GLAMOUR IN GLASS, finds Jane stranded on the Continent in the final weeks of the Napoleonic wars. Having invented a new and potentially game-changing way to create illusions, she must use it to thwart Napoleon's army. I loved the way the scope of the world has gotten bigger as Jane's skills as a glamourist have grown.
Book Three, WITHOUT A SUMMER, is coming out in April 2013. The cover is so delicious that I just want to eat it.
Kowal has several shorter works available for free online, including her Hugo-winning short story "For Want of a Nail" and Hugo and Nebula nominated novella "Kiss Me Twice." Be the first on your block to read Ginger Stuyvesant and the Case of the Eastworth Abbey, out today in the debut issue of a new magazine from TM Publishing.