Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3)

Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3),
by Mary Robinette Kowal

Reviewing a single book in a series is often difficult. As a “series addict,” I believe books should both ‘stand on their own merits’ and ‘be read in context.’

In the spirit of full disclosure, I sometimes choose to only read a series-author’s books if there IS a series, and if it is (mostly) DONE. In the spirit of Inigo Montoya, “I hate waiting.” And I also like more of a good thing. With no waiting.

Having finished book 3 of the Glamourist histories, I feel challenged to say why I gave 5 stars to Books 1 & 3, but only 3 stars to book 2. I also feel that it is important for me to acknowledge that while my “stars” tend to be entirely emotional, given upon immediately finishing, when I choose to write reviews, they are after…at least a few moments of reflection. Today, over an hour! (sadly if I wait too long they do not get finished)

Technically, all three books feel similar, but books 1 & 3 have 2 specific things that book 2 does not. (Sorry readers – I apologize openly for the numbers).

First, I am loathe to say it, but I think that perhaps…perhaps it is because in Without a Summer, we once again experience our beloved Jane as the inadvertent protagonist-as-antagonist. Our dear, flawed Jane makes a mess of things. And again, as in book 1, her sister bears the brunt of Jane’s fallibilities. Jane’s messes lend a huge amount of valid suspense and are allowed to resolve in a way that keeps me, as a reader, in love with her as fallible and forgivable.

Second, as in book 1, book 3 has a single, actual antagonist. Someone evil, in the background, creating a bad situation for Jane and those around her. A really good bad guy makes a book truly great.

Book 2 was good, and enjoyable, but didn’t have the punch-in-the-guts that comes from foiling a villain. The reader isn’t carried along on the rising tide of Jane’s tendency to make matters worse before they get better. That is replaced with a main course of heroism and a side dish of tragedy.

I feel privileged to have accompanied Jane through book 2, but book 3 is a happy return to what I enjoyed about book 1, while book 2 lacked the direct action…and mistakes…that are uniquely “Jane.”

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