This is the luscious sequel to Flora Segunda (Harcourt, 2006), featuring the intrepid and impetuous daughter of the Commanding General of the Army of Califa (known to Flora as Mamma) and the ex-aide-de-camp to the previous commanding General, ex-Ranger, and ex-drunk and crazy person (whom Flora calls Poppy). Well-brought up people greet each other with formal gestures called courtesies, made up of bows, curtsies and gestures that have various ultra-specific meanings, such as Acknowledging Heroic Style; As a Servant to His Mistress, Respectfully but Without Servility; To One Who is Owed Great Thanks; and so on. Flora goes bashing about this world in an outrageously spirited and pig-headed way, her frizzy red hair flouncing and her stays straining around her plump and energetic body. Flora narrates this tale, and so the language is florid and vivid, spiced up with outré observations of her fellow citizens, complaints about her too-tight stays, and wise sayings of the most famous ranger of them all, Nini Mo an example is Youd be amazed ho much dry socks matter.
That said, there are two things which kind of were a bit off for me: 1) While I enjoy the characters, I don't really feel like I have a strong attachment to them, and that's something I look for when reading books.
This is not, in fact, the first book in the series! Either I am some kind of truly remarkable moron, or publishers should really mark books with NUMBER TWO IN THE FLORA TRILOGY when they are number two in the Flora Trilogy. There was this odd dissonance between consistent cutesy slang ("giftie" "snackie"), cutesy tone (Flora referencing absurd Nini Mo quotes all the time), and how unflinchingly violent the book is. Flora's humorous perspective and the very strong, pervasive whimsy would have me place Flora's Dare as a solid middle grade book if it weren't for some pretty brutal details that make me think it's more YA. People seem to be dying all the time, some killed by Flora.
All the complicating factors come from other people, like her sister Idden and her friend Udo, or from external problems like the Loliga, a spirit creature trapped in the body of a giant squid, who's trying to escape captivity by destroying Califa.
The book starts shortly after Flora Segunda ends, and the repurcussions of that adventure are still being sorted out.
This series is so wonderful, full of magic, mystery, houses with rooms unknown, and an amazing strong-female protagonist who gets better with every book. The greatest ranger of them all -- Nyana Keegan, better known as Nini Mo -- chronicled her adventures in a series of yellowback novels called Nini Mo: Coyote Queen. (Coyote being the slangy term for ranger, of course.) There is no yellowback called 'Nini Mo sits in Math Class,' or 'Nini Mo and the Curse of the Overdue Library Book,' or 'Nini Mo vs. the Term Paper on the Orthogonal Uses of Liminal Spaces in the Novels of Lucretia McWordypants.'" ---> Favorite new words from this paragraph: "slangy" and "McWordypants" I also love that Flora is fine with what she looks like, and would rather not be all looks-obsessed.
Wilce has done a remarkable job creating and populating Flora's world with multiple, complex plots and subplots, and plenty of intriguing information to keep readers coming back for more.
Flora's Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room) Well, you can easily tell that this book would be hard to forget from the title itself.
It was then she first developed an interest in the history of the Republic and began researching the Citys past. After losing her position during the Great Bureaucratic Budgetary Freeze of 07 she took a position as pot-girl at the Mono Real coffee bar, and during her free time began on the first volume of Califa in Sunshine and Shade: A Glorious History of A Glorious Republic. Other monographs on incidents in Califa history followed, until the publication of the first full length volume Flora Segunda Being the Magical 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, which is available from your local bookmonger now.