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

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

by Ysabeau S. Wilce

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547539614
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 05/01/2008
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 350,408
File size: 6 MB
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Ysabeau S. Wilce is the author of Flora Segunda, Flora's Dare, and Flora's Fury, and she has also published work in Asimov's Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Tiptree Award, and Flora's Dare won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Trained as a military historian, she claims to have turned to fiction when the truth no longer compared favorably to the shining lies of her imagination. She lives in San Francisco with her family. Visit her website at www.yswilce.com.

Read an Excerpt

ONE
Mamma. Sleeping Late.
An Overdue Library Book.
The Elevator.
 
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 Idden isn’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
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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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 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flora Segunda is a hilarious, moving, whimsical, refreshing, and original young adult fantasy novel set in an alternate reality version of California, a country called Califa. Flora is so-named because the first Flora, her oldest sister, died well before she was born. Flora Segunda grows up with a sense of inferiority toward the original, golden-haired Flora. At the age of fourteen, Flora does all the domestic chores in her dysfunctional family because her father is a reclusive alcoholic and her mother is a workaholic who rarely comes home and who has banished the butler, a supernatural being meant to keep the huge mansion, Crackpot Hall, in order. Flora accidently ends up in a strange part of the house. and finally meets the butler, whom she tries to save so she doesn't have to keep doing all the housework. Can Flora find courage and be herself at last, or will her practice of self-negation literally lead to her end?
little_prof on LibraryThing 8 months ago
When your house has 11,000 rooms it seems utterly unfair that you are sleeping in a broom closet. Even a very nice, cozy broom closet. However, with the butler banished Flora's house is not in the best of shape. The potty disappears sometimes, the front door won't open, and the elevator once kidnapped her father for a week. Nevertheless, when she is running late to return a library book she dares the elevator. The elevator kidnapps her too and takes her to the library where she meets the banished butler. Before she knows it she is forging signatures, planning daring rescues, and sneaking into abandoned houses to steal words of power. She has a limited amount of time to rescue herself and her butler all before her mother gets home. And in the middle of all of this she has to get a dress made and invitations sent out for her birtday party!
vanedow on LibraryThing 8 months ago
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. I loved the idea of the house denizens and the way the magic works in this world.
kougogo on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Oh my god, this is an amazing book. Hilarious, scary, filled with the most inventive, evocative kinds of magic and place. Great characters. Flora - short, red-headed, hot-headed - and Udo - handsome, charming, a clothes-horse - are basically a match made in heaven. This is a city in which i want to live and party and go on dates with people.
Dranea on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Your childhood hero is ripped to pieces before your very eyes. Not only is he ripped to pieces, but his heart is ripped out of his chest and there is not a thing you can do about it. If your hero can not stop these dreaded bird creatures, how can you possibly have any hope of defeating them? The next step should be running like mad to escape their talons, correct? For Flora Segunda, her next step always seems to lead her into the very places she wishes to flee. We meet Flora as a child who is kept at home to help look after her father who has completely lost his mind. Thirteen year old Flora must do this because her mother, also known as Buck, is often away as the Commanding General of the Army of Califa. Flora's family is the Fyrdraaca family, one of the major houses in the city, but you would never guess it if you entered the home. Not only is little Flora left behind to tend to her crazed father, but she is also responsible for cleaning the home and the animals that inhabit it as well. By the way, did I mention yet that this house has eleven thousand rooms? If not, maybe this would be a good time to mention it. One day as Flora rushes through her morning to retrieve a library book she has to return to school, Flora decides to use the elevator her mother has forbidden ANYONE to use unless Buck accompanies them. This elevator does not always go where it is supposed to, but on this day Flora was in a hurry and had no time for the many steps that led back to her bedroom. She steps on the elevator and eventually comes face to face with Valefor. Valefor is the Fyrdraaca's magical butler. He is the one who should be in charge of taking care of this giant house and making sure meals are prepared and taking care of the grounds of this once fabulous house. But Buck has banished Valefor because she believes that using magic is the easy way out. Flora decides to help her poor forgotten butler to regain some of his strength and with this possibly gain back some of her freedom from the chores and some glamor back to her home. Her initial adventure gets tangled up in quite a few more adventures. I can't tell you too much more, because that would be cheating for you. I can tell you that while she seeks to help out her butler, she and her best friend Udo tramp across Califa on horseback in disguise to rescue prisoners, fool a War Lord, get held up at gun point by a child, meet people from their past, and have to face Califa's worst enemy, Lord Axacaya. All this while Flora is trying to keep from fading into nothing. I don't know about you, but thinking of all of that wore me out! Flora Segunda is definitely different from many books that I have read recently. The story line had wonderful elements of fantasy in it, but took twists on many other parts of the fantasy world which gave it a fresh new twist. Flora is a brave young lady with a role model her mother certainly would not approve of, but her tricks seem to save Flora in all the right ways. There are many failures Flora has to endure in the book, but the important thing is that Flora and Udo never gave up. Even when all seemed lost, and nothing could be salvaged from the mess (usually a mess they made), they kept going. Not only did Flora show bravery when it came to facing her enemies, Flora also showed bravery when it came to standing up to the people that she loved, which sometimes is the most difficult kind of courage to have. The imagery in this book reminded me of Lemony Snicket in several ways. Some of the clothing in this book was way over the top (which I love) and the way the people interact with each other had the exaggerated quality about it. I enjoyed this immensely because it gave me the feeling of truly being in a world all its own. The people were familiar enough that I understood what they were doing, but their mannerisms, traditions, speech, dress and relationships had an original feeling to them. I really was transported to a new world. Flora Se
DavidGlover on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this book and it's sequel. Great fun, smart, and I loved the main character, Flora.
veevoxvoom on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Thirteen-year-old Flora Segunda lives in the Republic of Califa in one of the great houses. Except Crackpot Hall is no longer so great and Flora is charged with its upkeep while her parents are otherwise incapacitated. One day Flora comes across the banished Butler of the house. At first it seems like a godsend: restore the butler and have him make the house glorious again. But magical beings and houses, Flora discovers, have a mind of their own.I picked Flora Segunda up with vague interest and finished it with avid attention. The book is clever, funny, and rolls along at breakneck speed. I love the details Wilce puts into Califa, all the ominous names and tongue-in-cheek descriptions. Flora as the protagonist is snappish and long-suffering but her narrative voice is wickedly amusing, and you can¿t help but feel sorry for her because of her home life.Which brings me to another point. As much as I enjoyed Flora Segunda as a magical adventure, I liked it better for being a story about the Fyrdraaca family. Although Flora feels like an orphan, I appreciate that she isn¿t. That would be too easy a route. Wilce presents her family in all their complicated glory. Her mother is never home and her father is too busy stuck in his own despair to notice he has a daughter. Yet they¿re not bad people; there is no easy black and white answer. Flora¿s home life injects a shot of real sadness into what is otherwise a light-hearted romp. But it makes the book all the richer for it.
Ysabeau on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Well, I wrote it, so, of course, I think it's divine!
CornerDemon on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I have to say that I opened the first few pages of this book very eagerly. And about ten chapters later, I put it back down and couldn't seem to talk myself into picking it up again. So I didn't finish Flora Segunda, and perhaps what I'll say doesn't ring true if one manages to get through it.Bu Flora is incredibly dull, and very predictable. I like the way magic is used. I liked the way the society is set up. To an extent, I even like Flora herself, the character, though she's awkwardly written. But it doesn't move very well; it hops around aimlessly, sometimes moving too slowly, other times a problem which seemed like it should've taken chapters is given a few pages to move through. This left me feeling disconnected, and made picking up the book again after an absence difficult, as well as unsatisfying.My other large problem was that it was predictable. Frustrated with the way the book was moving and how I believed to have guessed the book's major "twist" within pages of the main plot being introduced, I had to do something drastic, and something I try to NEVER do. I skipped to the end. Not to spoil, but I was right, and picking the book up got even harder, as now I was assured a dull read to get to something I guessed was going to happen in the first hundred pages. I call this a library rental for those addicted to fantasy and magic books, and who perhaps have better paitience than I. Also good for those addicted to Teen fiction, too.
ealaindraoi on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is an amazing first novel, and I hope the first of many set in this world. One often hears of young adult fantasy novels touted as the "Next Harry Potter", this is the first novel I've read in a long time that truly could be. The world of the Republic of Califa is so positively dense with a fully realized society with political structure and intrigue, wars and religion, different cultures, races and magical creatures with complicated alliances to humans. All this and wonderfully quirky characters who come to life and interact with each other in believable fashion.It would easily take me pages and pages to describe everything that's going on in this book, but take my word for it; it doesn't overwhelm you at first, but slowly draws you in and when you've finished you just go ......Wow. There's also a tone to the book that's quite catchy, I found myself naming all the nooks andcrannies of my own home. (I often walk down the Inevitable Short Hallway of Doom and think, I need to vacuum this ISHoD.) Did I mention it's also sneaky funny? The kind of funny that you don't see coming and then all of a sudden there you are, chuckling madly at the book while your family eyes you warily.There are so many other books that could be written about this world, and characters that haven't even been addressed yet. I found myself wondering about Flora's two sisters (one disappeared, one in the military) who were barely mentioned in the book. I'll be standing in line to buy (or waiting on Amazon to ship)any more books by Ms. Wilce set in this world. There is mild violence in the book, but the vocabulary and length (431 pages) would make it difficult for any reader under 12. If you love fantasy, you owe yourself the pleasure of this book. You can join me in waiting for the next one!
syke87 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Great book! I enjoyed it immensley, and am looking forward to the next. I love the vocabulary choies, the world building, and the characters.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I loved this book! It reminds of a well created cartoon, with extra large characters, extra large problems, a very bright and strange place. This book is not a typical fantasy book. The setting seems to take place in California, only now its called Calif, and its culturally part Indian, part Spanish, and part Aztec. Magic exists, but Flora's Mom doesn't like it very much, and banished the family's magical butler. As a result, Flora ends up doing all the chores. Her Mom (Buck) spends a lot of time away, and Flora's Dad is crazy and hopeless. The writing is from first person, and its written in a way an educated 14 year old would speak. There are no one dimensional characters in this book, except for the very minor one line characters. For example, Buck is portrayed as this very cold woman who only cares for work when Flora talks about her, but when we actually meet Buck, we find out she works a lot, has high expectations about her daughter, but really loves Flora. We see the world through Flora's 14 year old eyes and as she learns a few lessons (Things aren't what they seem, but sometimes they are). This book is a lot fun, and I highly suggest reading it. Not your typical teenage fantasy.
TerrapinJetta on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Very original and a really solid world.
callmecayce on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I accidentally read the second book in this series first, which meant that Flora Segunda wasn't as good as if I'd read it first. That being said, I totally enjoyed it. I love the character of Flora and I liked learning about the all the characters I met in Flora's Dare. Flora is a great main character, she's strong and smart and the story itself is hilarious. I like her friends and I like that she has battles of wits, magic and violence (but only slightly) and she would rather talk herself out of trouble. I like the way Wilce has created Flora's world and I like, in the second book, how this is expanded. I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series.
inkcharmed on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Cute and whimsical- I picked this up after reading a review saying that THIS is what girls should be reading after Harry Potter, instead of the Twilight series, so I picked it up, and was glad I did.
heathersblue on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A very different book. Odd spellings and style make it a biy hard to get into...but boy does it pay off. Wilce has a keen imagination and a fantastic sense of humor. Our teen book club read it and everyone loved it.
scroeser on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I came across one of Wilce's short stories in Fantasy, the Best of the Year, 2007, 'The Lineaments of Gratified Desire', and found it to be utterly delightful. Flora Segunda is less dark than that story, being a children's book, but it's one of the best children's books I've read in a long, long, time. There are all kinds of witty details, and it doesn't have the Manichean worldview that so irritated me with the Harry Potter books. I found the first person viewpoint a bit jarring at times, but it's more than made up for by Flora Segunda's charming character.Ysabeau Wilce is most definitely my new favourite author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this series. I am now reading the third book. And it is pretty good so far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lexybooks More than 1 year ago
i liked it cause there are so many things that are unimaginable and it plunges you into so many things you could never imagine but i thought there really wasnt a point to the book no real plot line but its ok ive read better
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!!! The imagination is crazy, thats for sure . . . who's ever heard of magical butlers before? I haven't. Anyway, way to go, author! Hope you write a few more--please?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply wonderful. Light read, but a page turner. Great start, little dry a few chapters in, but picks up quick. With a perfect end! Flora is likable from the start. As is Poppy, Valrfor, and of course Udo. You won't be dissappointed! Ysabeau Wilca you have a new fan! Can't wait for another.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Flora Fydraaca's Catorcena is coming up and she hasn't finished her dress or her speech. The main problem with the speech is that it's supposed to celebrate everything great and glorious about her family, the Fyrdraaca's, and her home, Crackpot Hall, and it all has to be true. Unfortunately, Flora doesn't find either of these things to be particularly great or glorious. Maybe they were once, but not since Flora can remember.

Once her father was a great champion fighter and rider. Now he just hides up in his rooms, and occasionally has fits of insanity. He went crazy years ago during the war, when he tried, and failed, to rescue the first Flora from abductors. Flora's mother is the Warlord's Commanding General, so she seems pretty glorious, but she's hardly ever home. Flora's sisterIdden is a general in an elite part of the army, but Flora's not interested in that. Even though it's what she's expected to do after school.

Crackpot Hall sounds like it was unbelievable before Flora was born, but then her mother banished the magickal Butler. Ever since then the windows leak, the garden has become a jungle, stairways forget to finish, hallways end in nothing, etc. There are 11,000 rooms in Crackpot Hall, but Flora and her family can only get to a few of them. Those few rooms stay only as clean as Flora can manage between school, her father's outbursts, and taking care of the dogs.

One day, already running late for school, Flora has to run back inside to get a well-overdue library book. Knowing the risk, she takes a chance and takes the elevator. She ends up in a part of the house she never even knew existed. A place that contains a million books and what's left of the now very bitter, banished Butler. He's literally wasting away to nothing.

He thinks Flora can help him. Maybe she can. Maybe the more important question is should she help him? Regardless, a chain of events is set in motion that will alter Flora, the Fyrdraaca family, and possibly Crackpot Hall, completely.

A magical adventure with a host of peculiar characters, most of which are well-developed and extremely entertaining. Flora's life is exciting, eventful, and sometimes dangerous. Help comes in strange ways from the most unexpected places, and learning to be herself may be the hardest and most important thing Flora has ever done.