Flora Fyrdraaca is on the verge of her fourteenth birthday, and it seems as though her life is to be set for her. Though she would rather be a Ranger, she knows her mother is to send her to the Barracks for War Training, as all the Fyrdraaca’s have gone, and Mamma insists that they all will. There is no one to help her reason with Mamma either, for her elder sister is already out of the house, her father is a bit unhinged and spends most of his time in his Eyrie and when he does come out into the open, can usually be counted on to make more of a mess than the rest of the family combined. Not to mention that Flora is in all actuality little more than a replacement child after the First Flora was lost; a Flora Segunda whose Will must bend to that of Mamma’s, as does everyone’s.
However, that changes when Flora stumbles upon Valefor, her House’s former Butler, who was banished by Mamma due to her distrust of magick. Thinking of how nice it would be to have someone else clean the House for a change – not to mention have more than one potty that actually works, and warm, lavender scented towels after a bath – Flora is eager to help him regain his place in the House, and embarks on the quest happily with her best friend Udo and her favorite dog Flynn. However, what no one told Flora is that to take on such a quest could very well result in her own disappearance from the world she knows.
Oh, this is a lovely book. Quite charming, once you get past all the introduction stuff…which I tend to be fairly forgiving on anyway, because the author has to set up an entire world, and make it seem as though this world has always existed. Wilce does a fairly good job of that, and if all the lingo that Flora and the other assorted characters use is a bit jarring and overdone at first, it smooths out quickly. What I think I liked the most about this book is that it isn’t just about Flora’s quest to reinstate Valefor or even to regain her sense of self as it starts to slip, but rather learning to find her own voice and stand up for what she wants in a crowd of people who have very forceful personalities. To stop allowing the Will of others to dictate her own. I’m very interested to see where these books go.