Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Flora Segunda* by Ysabeau S. Wilce- young adult book review


Flora Segunda
by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Ages 12+ 448 pages Harcourt January 2007 Hardcover    

In one week, Flora Fyrdraaca turns fourteen. She is to prepare a speech, put together a dress, and post invitations, all to prepare for her Catorcena. In the city of Califa, now only comprised of four great Houses, the age of fourteen signifies adulthood.

Unfortunately, Flora isn’t looking forward to this particular birthday. In her speech, Flora is supposed to talk with pride about her family’s glory and her fantastic future. But right now, Flora doesn’t see glory in her family or anything fantastic in her future. She lives in Crackpot Hall, and it’s falling apart. Flora performs all the butlering duties in the house and keeps an eye on her father. He needs watching now because he’s a broken man after his time as a prisoner of war. In her eyes, she sees no reason to celebrate.

There is another reason Flora dreads turning fourteen: it is the age children go to Benica Barracks to learn to march, ride and shoot. Although she would be following in her family’s footsteps by going, she spurns the thought of being a soldier. She wants to be a Ranger; Rangers can use Magick, and they don’t follow orders. Ranger life appeals to Flora who, unhappily, comes from a family consisting of a mom who is the Warlord’s Commanding General and a sister who is Captain in the most prestigious regiment of the army.

Despite knowing some Magick herself, using it won’t help Flora get her library book back in time to Arch-Librarian Naberius. While taking the off-limits elevator in her house to retrieve the much-needed book, she begins her journey. Her first of many adventures starts in the silvery library she never knew existed, but it’s easy to see why: Crackpot Hall has eleven thousand rooms. She knows about the Below Kitchen, the Upper Hall, and the Below Stairs, but this library room is new to her.

The room's inhabitant is a surprise, too. Albeit in a very weakened state, it is Valefor, the butler her mom banished years ago because she is “all about the hard things.” The butler desperately needs her Anima (her Magickal essence) to grow stronger. Valefor leads Flora to believe he can be helpful with her aspirations, so she leans in and breathes into his mouth. She does this over and over again and, unfortunately, this connects them forever.

At first, Flora enjoys the freedom that comes with having a healthy butler again who acts like her fairy godmother, but he becomes a problem. He’s clingy and tells her things she’d rather not know, like the quilt she sleeps under is full of her great, great, great grandmother’s enemies’ hair, and her bedroom was where he used to store extra toilet brushes. And, despite all her breaths into him, Valefor keeps receding; her breaths only help him for so long. Then, after all her help, Flora starts to get comments about her dimming appearance: Valefor is sucking all her Will.

Even with her restoration aid, Valefor’s Will is running out, and so, too, is Flora’s. Valefor is destined for the Abyss if his Will runs out, and Flora will be going with him because of their connection. On her venture to be restored, Flora relies on her friend Udo, and her ranger thoughts and beliefs. While on her quest, she has to face some big fears in the form of Bilskinir House, where she might become prey, and the Lord Axacaya, her mother’s biggest enemy.

Flora leads both a Ranger-like life and a normal life, too. As a Ranger would, she tries to save lives, but she also has to go to school (she gets a Zed on her homework) and be at home to do her chores. She depends on her best friend, Udo (who wants to break away from family tradition, too - he wants to be involved with piracy, not with law), for support in her life.

Within her own domestic life, Flora is learning to bond with her family. She’s slowly getting to know her father once more as they find themselves doing things together like swimming in the Sunken Puddle and forging the Warlord’s signature. However, it’s when time gets out of synch that she comes to actually see her father as he once was. And, despite her negative expectations for her birthday, she does get some fantastic gifts and surprises. But she’s happiest because of who joins her for her Catorcena - and what she learns about Rangers from the gifts she receives.

Flora is a likable girl who believes in being clever and fast. Although she needs help with her pronunciation sometimes while performing her Magick, she shows bravery and resilience in many situations in this book. And Flora is the kind of girl who makes friends with some of her enemies.

Flora Segunda is Ysabeau S. Wilce’s debut novel.

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Tanya Boudreau/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (