I mightn't have gotten around to reviewing it just yet, but no doubt you monsters all have your ways: so surely you'll know enough about Shades of Milk and Honey to know it was one of last's years most remarked-upon fantasy debuts. An elegant exercise in Austentatious literature with a wonderful flourish of magic and such literary smarts as to win over all but the hardest hearts, to my surprise it marked Mary Robinette Kowal's first published novel after having honed her skills with five years of sumptuous short fiction.
Her second novel, Glamour in Glass - set in the same world (and era) as Shades - will be along from Tor later this year. I'm very much looking forward to it, and sure enough the rest of the blogosphere will be all a-froth when ARCs start arriving. But the publishing industry works on a clock all its own: having spent a year researching, Kowal is now hard at work on novel number three. It's called The Transfigured Lady, and I shouldn't wonder it's ages away yet.
Given which, you might be wondering: why am I bothering to tell you this now? Well, because Kowal has begun posting the first draft of The Transfigured Lady online, chapter by chapter - as I understand she did with Shades of Milk and Honey, way back when. "I miss having you read along as I write," the author blogs.
So what's a guy to do?
There's a little bit of a rigmarole to get through before you too can oblige, but on the strength of the first chapter, Kowal can count me in, and I'd heartily recommend you all have a good ogle as well, if the following excerpt tickles your fancy:
"Heat followed Cora Fairchild through the stage-door and clung to her neck with sticky fingers. Even first thing in the morning, the warmth of August in Nashville just about laid a body out. What had she been thinking when she booked herself back here in the summer? Besides the fact that she got to play Titania, of course.
"She stopped short inside the door of the Vendome. The narrow backstage hall was crowded with people in various states of undress. Some wore the spangled tights of acrobats. One dapper man had the long tail coat and polished shoes of a song-and-dance man. Cora had forgotten that Mr. Sheetz was renting the Vendome to a vaudeville company this week during the times the stage was dark.
"Pushing her way through the line of chorus girls headed for the stage, she ducked into the green room and the blessed cool. The sweat that Cora’s corset had trapped between her chemise and skin made her shiver at the sudden chill."
Go on: get in now, while the getting-in's good. Thank me later!