Review: Without a Summer

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Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories, #3)Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the book where Melody comes into full as a character and is a great third instalment in the series.
The story is smaller and more familiar than the previous book, even though the plot is once again set in motion by global events (the year without a summer and subsequent famine) and touches upon class issues, prejudice, and political intrigue.

I was glad to see Melody be more fleshed out, since her role in the first book made her appear somewhat vain and shallow and she didn’t get chances for development in Glamour in Glass, but this also made for one of the points that I liked less in the novel. (Jane is blamed for [spoiler]believing that her sister’s headaches were faked, but to be honest, her actions in the first book gave even the reader very little reason to trust her as well. In fact, only the O’Briens, who are new acquaintances, believe her at all. Nor her parents, nor Vincent, nor her family doctor ever associated her headaches and lack of precision with an eyesight problem, so why Jane should be the only one to bear the fault of that is beyond me.[/spoiler] Still, her romance throughout the book is well-crafted and believable, and a politically active Melody could be the start of several interesting plots in the future.

A half-wasted opportunity is in the appearance of Vincent’s family, which provides a lot more insight into his past, but does little to move his character forward. Also, they’re all so completely unlikable that it makes it hard to care about them in any fashion except as token antagonists.

Disclaimer: I listened to the author doing a test reading of the first chapters of the novel.

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