In her first novel, Wilce imagines a living castle—a kind of blending of Gormenghast and Hogwarts—and she breathes life into her tale with a wry sense of humor. The book opens as narrator Flora Fyrdraaca, the heroine of the title, is about to turn 14, a rite of passage that qualifies her to enter military training. She spends her days mostly alone inside her family's castle, Crackpot Hall. Its 11,000 rooms have started to decay since Flora's mother, the Warlord's Commanding General, fired the magical Butler. Flora's father "only comes out of his Eyrie when the booze and cigarillos run out." Rushing to avoid being late to school, Flora takes the forbidden Elevator and ends up lost within her home—and meets the banished magical Butler, Valefor, in a forgotten library. Valefor convinces Flora to give him some of her "Anima," her "magickal essence," and he grows stronger. The plot detours into a convoluted back story about warring kingdoms; this leads to the tale of the "Dainty Pirate," whom Flora and her friend Udo then rescue from the gallows. The pirate warns Flora that Valefor is actually sucking her "Will" away, and the two friends begin a hunt for a "Semiote Verb" that will restore Flora's strength. Wilce takes the kitchen-sink approach to storytelling—at times the narrative borders on self-indulgent (e.g., "Oh ugh and disgusting and yucky-yuck"); hence some readers may feel that the book is overlong—though certainly good-natured and enjoyable. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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 Dogby Ysabeau S. Wilce
Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall--the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the/i>… See more details below
Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall--the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler--and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever.
Full of wildly clever plot twists, this extraordinary first novel establishes Ysabeau Wilce as a compelling new voice in teen fantasy.
Flora Fyrdraaca is approaching 14, the age of majority, and preparing for its celebratory Catorcena. She lives in Crackpot Hall, a once-glorious but now decaying home with 11,000 rooms that randomly shift positions. Her mother is the Warlord's Commanding General and a workaholic. Her father, a broken man due to his past imprisonment for war crimes, is most often an enraged drunk who trashes the house. Oversleeping one morning, Flora uses the forbidden Elevator to get her overdue library book and finds herself in a strange part of the house where Valefor, the family butler, has been banished. He is losing his Anima and convinces Flora to let him suck some of hers, which causes her to develop Anima Enervation, and she begins to fade. Here the complicated plot in this overlong first novel becomes as shifting and rambling as Crackpot Hall itself. Flora and her friend Udo try to find a fetish or Semiote Verb to restore Valefor, but then get waylaid. Flora uncovers why Poppy is such a broken man, swims in the slimy pond in her garden to touch the refreshing Current and be restored, and much more-all in the week preceding her Catorcena. The plot has structural problems and clarification, when given, seems appended after the fact. Extraneous details make the story muddled, as does the inclusion of invented words. While some of the writing is witty, this is an additional purchase at best.
Connie Tyrrell BurnsCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Praise for Flora Segunda "Highly original, strange and amusing ...treats young readers with respect."—Diana Wynne Jones
• "A thoroughly original magical world marks this witty debut...Tantalizingly, the open-ended conclusion hints there might be more to come from this compelling and funny heroine."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Like [Philip] Pullman’s Lyra Silvertongue or [Terry] Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching, Flora Fyrdraaca is a descendant of Jo March rather than a fainting beauty who needs rescuing."—The New York Times Book Review
Praise for Flora's Dare
Winner of the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
"Wilce creates a fantastic and unique world. . . . Guaranteed thrills, chills, and amazing revelations."—VOYA
• "This fresh and funky setting is rich with glorious costumes, innovative language and tantalizing glimpses of history."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Never loses its sense of fun."—Booklist
Praise for Flora's Fury
"[A] thrilling, bizarre ride."--The Horn Book
"Readers return to our heroine at a pivotal moment in her growth . . . Flora fans will love old mysteries solved."--Kirkus Reviews
"Offers some enjoyable twists . . . fans of Flora will not be disappointed."--VOYA, 3Q 2P J S "A charming conclusion to a fine fantasy series."--Booklist
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Flora SegundaBeing 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
By Wilce, Ysabeau S.
Harcourt Children's BooksCopyright © 2007 Wilce, Ysabeau S.
All right reserved.
Mamma. Sleeping Late.
An Overdue Library Book.
AS COMMANDING GENERAL of the Army of Califa, Mamma is in charge of just about everything, so she is not much home--she's always off on an inspection, or maneuvers, or at a grand council somewhere, or just working late. Thus, Crackpot's crumbling is no particular bother to her. Idden, too, is nicely out of it, even if her current post, Fort Jones, is the back end of Nowhere. At least she can count on having someone else do her laundry and cook her supper.
Mostly just Poppy and I are stuck home alone, which really works out to just me alone, because Poppy only comes out of his Eyrie when the booze and cigarillos run out. Then he's just a thin shadow in a worn cadet shawl and bloodstained frock coat creeping out the back door, off to buy more booze, so he hardly counts at all. Thus, it is me who reaps all the inconvenience.
When Mamma is home, she gets up at oh-dark-thirty and makes me get up with her, so that we can have family time at breakfast. This, of course, is not really family time, since Poppy isn't there, and Iddenisn't there, and the First Flora isn't there. On these occasions, it's just Mamma and me, half a family, having half-a-family time. And since that's all we are ever going to have, that's what we have to learn to like.
It makes Mamma happy to pretend we are a happy family, so I sit and suffer through warmed-over takeaway and café au lait, and she asks me about school, and I ask her about work, and this morning time makes up for the fact that she stays at the War Department every night until ten and I usually eat supper alone.
But when Mamma is off on one of her trips, I sleep until the very last minute and rush off to Sanctuary School without my breakfast, but with an extra half hour of snore.
Now, the Butler may be banished, but that doesn't mean that the House is entirely dead. Occasionally it groans and thrashes a bit, like a sleeping person whose body moves though her mind drifts far away. But it never moves like you would want it to, like before, when the potty would be next to your bedroom in the middle of the night, but tucked Elsewhere otherwise. Sometimes the long way is the short way and the short way is the long way, and occasionally there is no way at all.
This does not happen too often, because Mamma is strict that it should not. Before, the Butler kept Crackpot in order, but now it's Mamma's Will alone that keeps the House in line. She likes to be in control of things and usually is. But when Mamma is gone, her grip slips a bit, and then so does the way downstairs, or to the back door, or maybe even to the potty. The House moves not in a good and useful way, but in a horribly inconveniently annoying way. Sometimes you have to be careful.
Like the Elevator. Our rooms are spread along three floors, and it's a bit of a hike to get from the kitchen in the basement up to my second-floor bedroom. The Elevator would be much quicker, but we aren't supposed to use it without Mamma. Once, when I was just a tot, Poppy tried to take the Elevator back to his Eyrie. Mamma warned him not to, but he was drunk, and he roared that he would see her in hell before he'd take another order from her, General Fyrdraaca, sir! When he staggered onto the Elevator, the iron grille slammed just like an eyelid snapping shut in fear, with Poppy still cursing blue as the cage moved upward.
The Elevator came back empty a few minutes later, and for a full week, we could hear distant howling and shouting drifting around us, but always out of our reach. Poppy finally staggered out of the Door of Delectable Desires, disheveled and pale, and, without a word, started the long climb up the Stairs of Exuberance to his Eyrie, from which he did not stir for the next six months.
After that, Mamma made Idden and me swear not to use the Elevator without her. With her, the Elevator goes where it should: It wouldn't dare do anything else. But she doesn't trust it with the rest of us, and so I have to climb up and down a zillion stairs, which is a chore, particularly when you are loaded down with laundry.
And that's where everything started--with the Elevator.
Mamma was gone on an inspection of Angeles Barracks, and I woke up on the sharp edge of running extremely late. I had been up until nearly three trying to write my stupid Catorcena speech--a total waste of time, for the speech is supposed to celebrate your family and future, and what about my family and future is there to celebrate? But I had stayed up half the night trying, and here was the result: I had overslept.
Tardiness is not encouraged at Sanctuary School. Most of the kids sleep there, and that I do not is a benefit Mamma arranged due to the need for someone to keep an eye on Poppy during her frequent absences. Of course, I'd rather sleep at Sanctuary, for Poppy is not someone you want to get stuck keeping an eye on. When he is good, there's nothing to see, for he keeps to the Eyrie and is silent. When he is bad, he screams like a banshee and crashes furniture. But there are the dogs to consider, as well. If Poppy were left alone to feed them, they'd starve.
But anyway, I still have to be at Sanctuary on time, so I was in a tearing hurry. I'd already been late three times in the past month, which had gotten me only detention. But a fourth strike meant more than just detention. First, it meant a trip to the Holy Headmistress's office, where Madama would sit me down and look at me sorrowfully, and tell me I must be mindful of my time because I was all that my mamma had left now that Idden had gone, and she relied on me. That would make me feel guilty, and I hate feeling guilty.
But even worse, then Madama would write Mamma a letter. And Mamma would come home and get that letter, and she would be superannoyed. Mamma superannoyed is fearsome. She doesn't scream or whack, but she would give me the Look that has reduced colonels to tears, and then she would remind me about duty, honor, and responsibility. I would feel worse than guilty--I would feel ashamed. Having Mamma give you the Look is about the worst thing in the world. It means you've failed her. And she was sure to mention, too, how sad it was that I had failed her so close to my Catorcena. My Catorcena was only a week off. It's a big deal, turning fourteen, age of majority, legally an adult, wah-wah, suitable now to be received by the Warlord, wah-wah, and so it's celebrated in big-deal style. There's an assembly where you have to make a public speech about your family's history and obligations and the responsibility of adulthood. There's a reception where the Warlord greets you by name, thus acknowledging you as his loyal subject. It's all very tedious, overwrought, and complicated--a big whoop-de-do.
For some kids, this is the highlight of their lives, maybe the only time they get to see the Warlord in his courtly glory (you can see the Warlord propping up a bar South of the Slot any old time you care to look), the only time they have a fancy party at which no one looks anywhere but at them, the only time they get huge gifties. But I don't care about the Warlord in his courtly or noncourtly glory, and I don't care about huge gifties, and I don't care about fancy parties. And I certainly don't care about making a stupid speech about the history of my horrible, sad, decaying family.
Most kids want to be adults; then they are in charge of themselves. But not Fyrdraacas. Mamma is always in charge of Fyrdraacas, no matter how old they are, and for me, being an adult means only that I will be old enough to go to the Barracks next semester, whether I want to or not. And I certainly do not, although I have not yet gotten up the nerve to tell Mamma so.
Copyright © 2007 by Ysabeau S. Wilce
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