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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 Rooms, and a Red Dog Hardcover – January 1, 2007

55 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Flora Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–9—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 Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1 edition (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152054332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152054335
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,483,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In addition to the Flora novels, Ysabeau's stories have appeared in various anthologies, including "Steampunk!"; "The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror"; "Eclipse 1"; "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine" and "The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy".

She has been nominated for a World Fantasy Award and been a James Tiptree finalist. In 2008, "Flora's Dare" was awarded the Andre Norton Award.

In her spare time, Ysabeau enjoys chewing, sleeping, and folding paper-towels into napkins. Someday she hopes to go down the Colorado River in a barrel.

She currently lives in Northern California with her husband, child and border collie. They do not, alas, have a butler.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on January 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! It has a terrific narrative voice; it's told by Flora Fyrdracca herself, who is about to turn 14 and, unfortunately, be sent to study war, like her mother, Buck, the Warlord's military leader. Flora would far rather become a Ranger like her hero, Nini Mo--and man, so would I. Rangers are independent scouts and spies who can do magic and have amazing adventures. Flora lives pretty much on her own (Buck is often away and her father, Poppy, is mad and/or drunk most of the time) in a rambling, crumbling magical house. Things start to liven up for poor Flora (who stays pretty lively, despite having a tough time) when she discovers Val, a Butler, a magical being who is supposed to keep the house in order.

The tone of the book is wonderful, and the voice sizzles with energy. Take, for example, this exchange about Buck between Flora and the Butler:

"Mamma is not afraid of anything." In her youth, my mamma killed a jaguar with a shovel. She's won the Warlord's Hammer twice. She's fought three duels, one bare-knuckled, and won them all. And, of course, she's been married to Poppy for twenty-eight years, which alone takes a lot of sand.

"Pah. You can be as brave as a lion on the outside, Flora Segunda," Val answered, "and fight bears with your fingernails and stare down monsters until they melt into little puddles of goo at your feet and still be a coward inside, in your heart, where it counts."

And here, part of the Butler's tour of the house:

"...Slippery Stairs, where Anacreon Fyrdracca broke his nose sliding down on a tea tray...Beekeeping Room, don't bother them, Udo, ad they won't bother you...Formerly Secret Cubbyhole...Because it can't be secret if you know where it is, that's why, Madama Smartie...Luggage Mezzanine...
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Erika L. Hamerquist on December 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago I read a short story by this author which was so jaw-droppingly fantastic it turned me into a cyber-stalker, always on the prowl for more. Needless to say I was delighted when this novel finally popped up. Although plainly written for young teens, with prose and content adjusted accordingly, Flora Segunda provides another glimpse into the vibrant world of Califa, the product of such a singular imagination I'm at a loss for words, Grammatickal or otherwise, to describe it. Quiero mas y mas, Madama Wilce!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bluejack on July 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Here's a fact: Ysabeau S. Wilce is profoundly original. If you read all the customer reviews here, you'll get the sense that this is not your formula fantasy. But let's make that point more clearly--you will never read another story like this one (unless, possibly, it's her next one, which we all eagerly anticipate).

This is the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what could, and certainly should, be the next story franchise that graduates from cult status to mainstream blockbuster. Wilce doesn't sugar coat the risks of adolescence: she dips them in ice cream, lights them on fire, and serves the reader a flaming torch of strange wonder.

Laughter and thrilling excitement are delightful companions all through this romp. The subtitle gives a sense of the former, but don't underestimate Wilce's storytelling: great characters in real trouble make for great reading, and Flora is a heroine who speaks equally to the reality as well as the ambitions of young people.

Oh yes, and while this is not specifically a unique observation, I'd also like to note that it is always refreshing to find a fantasy that does not take place in something that could pass for Northern Europe.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pauline J. Alama on June 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ysabeau Wilce has created a truly original imaginary world refreshingly free of the cliches of the fantasy genre. What's more, she's provided the perfect tour guide to this world: Flora Fyrdraaca, an irreverent, eager, believably adolescent narrator scheming to escape the expectations of her family and become a Ranger--a magic-using secret agent--instead of following family tradition into the army, madness, and doom. Assigned to write a speech in praise of her noble House, Flora narrowly rejects openings like "Crackpot Hall has 11,000 rooms but only one potty." Indeed, the ancestral pile has seen better days, partly for reasons bound up in the power plays of Flora's illustrious mother, a famous general who tolerates no insubordination and has disabled the magical Butler that should keep the house in order. Motivated partly by sympathy and partly by the desire to have someone else muck out the stable, Flora sets herself a quest to restore the Butler to his rightful place, but she soon discovers that the price of a little help with the housework can be, almost literally, her soul. Flora's quirky comic voice always keeps the danger of her predicament and the dysfunctionality of her family from weighing down the story, which bounces lightly along to its conclusion--or rather, temporary conclusion, because this is the first volume of a trilogy. I'm no Young Adult, and this is a Young Adult book, but I can hardly wait for Volume 2.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By mimagirl on January 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Synopsis from Harcourt's website: "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."

This was a lively read, never a dull moment for Flora and co. The characters were all interesting, but rather bizarrely so. The book itself had some wonderful moments and adventures, but at the same time seemed to leap, hop, halt and skip around like an untamed colt. The whole thing was so odd, so different, that I couldn't quite get myself to like it. Excitement, check. Page-turner, check. Interesting (albeit weird) characters, check. The writing itself was good, I suppose. However, everything in this world seemed so unconnected and the surprises in the book would be more aptly termed shocks! For characters, I preferred Flora's papa and her friend Udo Landaðon to Flora herself.

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 was a little too strange for me. (Although how can you not love that title?) In ways I want to recommend it because it was a unique, funnish sort of tale. But the mishaps outweighed the magic for me. Read it if it sounds interesting to you, but beware its un-normality.
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