Thumbs up for The Wisteria Society for Lady Scoundrels by India Holton. Historical fantasy romance.
This book is bananas, in the best way. From the description, I was expecting a Victorian romance with some derring-do, maybe some swashbuckling. On page two, a handsome pirate knocked on the door of the ladies’ genteel townhouse; by page four we had established that the ladies are also pirates; and on page eight it is made clear that said pirates use magical incantations to levitate and fly their houses for the purposes of looting and plundering and assassinating each other. (Everything from an outhouse to Windsor Castle will fly, it seems.) The heroine’s villainous father, an outrageously bad poet and (maybe) son of Bramwell Bronte, is trying to establish the patriarchy (it never really took hold in this universe, you see). But there is a Society of house-flying, pistol-wielding ladies in his way, and much antics ensue. There’s a lot of silliness, but it’s rather like Jasper Fforde’s work: it’s smart silliness that assumes you know who Bramwell Bronte is, and isn’t above breaking the fourth wall for a really good joke. Whether you will find this as hilarious as I did (VERY) is dependent on how easily you can roll with “Victorian England, but with lady pirates in flying houses.” The least satisfying part, honestly, was the romance, but turn the page for more madcap antics and all is well. If it sounds good to you, it is delightful, please read it.
“I thought a change of scenery might do us good. Mayfair is becoming altogether too rowdy. We shall fly the house down this afternoon. It will be a chance to give Pleasance a refresher course on the flight incantation’s last stanza. Her vowels are still too flat. Approaching the ground with one’s front door at a thirty-degree angle is rather more excitement than one likes for an afternoon. And yes, I can see from your expression you still think I shouldn’t have shared the incantation’s secret with her, but Pleasance can be trusted. Granted, she did fly that bookshop into the Serpentine when they told her they didn’t stock any Dickens novels, but that only shows a praiseworthy enthusiasm for literature. She’ll get us safely to Bath, and then you can take a nice stroll among the shops. Maybe you can buy some pretty lace ribbons or a new dagger before getting your iced buns.”
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