Reading: Ysabeau S. Wilce — Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog

Yes, the title is that long. Yes, there are two more adventures with Flora. Yes, their titles are that long too. Yes, highly likely to be my Book of the Year. No, I have no idea where I first heard of Ysabeau S. Wilce, nor did I know this is a “children’s book”.

I regularly find myself reading children’s books or that dreadful, condescending genre Young Adult, because I have no standards or expectations that might make me dismissive of such books, and luckily the people whose writing often lead me to discover new authors similarly don’t differentiate between proper books for adults and books for all the rest. Probably in large part because the science-fiction and fantasy genres tend to be looked down upon by serious literature, and these genres are full of an endless avalanche of embarrassments intended for said adults, whereas the really good works transcend their intended audience, irrespective of age.

Flora Segunda is certainly one of these transcendent works. The Flora on my cover looks a lot like a slightly older Merida from the movie Brave (which is by the way another one of those works), and it’s probably wherever I first heard about this book mentioned the two things of significance for me to consider further perusal: woman author and female lead character. Yes, this is important. I am extremely unlikely to read a work of fiction if the author is not female unless there’s a very good reason to do so. Saladin Ahmed is a good example of one, author of Throne of the Crescent Moon, and currently researching American comics pre-Comics Code — his Twitter feed is a glorious joy of brilliance. Charles Stross also (yes, also Iain).

As with Throne of the Crescent Moon, there is a substantial, highly imaginative and coherent world which the characters inhabit. I can’t not mention first Flora’s best friend, the sartorial genius Udo. Come to think of it, this would make as good a film as Brave, though Disney would probably do their eugenic princessification ‘redesign’ on her as they did on Merida. So, yes, read it! Exceptional cold, rainy Zürich summer weekend reading. So very good I ordered the next two Flora adventures before finishing breakfast.