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) (Flora Trilogy, Book 2) 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 by Ysabeau S. Wilce

I almost didn’t read this sequel to Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers, but I’m really glad I did. Maybe I was just in the wrong mood the first time around, or maybe the pacing picked up in the second book. Either way, something clicked.

I can’t say that I’ve ever complained about a lack of good ol’ West Coast fantasy, or even fantasy based in an American landscape, but if I had complained, this would be the solution. Wilce gives us a fantasy version of San Francisco, a world where the place and mythology is crucial to the story. Just what I never realized that I always wanted.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Flora’s Dare is the language. And not just the fake-swearing language, either (exclamations of “pigface!” abound). The names are just as delightful as the first time around – a character named Tiny Doom rivals the Dainty Pirate from the first book. Throw in magic and monsters, a high rate of bacon and waffle consumption, a girl who’s outgrowing her stays, a kilt-wearing populace, an army general for a mother, a best friend taken over by the outlaw version of the red shoes (in this case, a pair of sparkly red boots with a five inch heel), and some stuffed pigs that I suspect of being more than they seem – well, sign me up.

This one hovers on the border between middle grade and YA – and I’m inclined to say middle grade because there’s no specific content that makes it more mature. It’s a big book, excellent for those fans of elaborate but unusual fantasies.

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