Bluecrowne, by Kate Milford, for Timeslip Tuesday

I was not expecting Bluecrowne, by Kate Milford (Clarion Books, Oct. 2 2018), to be a Timeslip Tuesday book....though I was expecting to love this journey back to the world of Nagspeake and Greenglass House, and I did.

Bluecrowne takes place just a bit before The Left-Handed Fate, and considerably before the Greenglass House books.  It also connects to all the other books Kate Milford has written too, in complicated ways that you will understand if you've read them, but if you haven't, are better left to discover yourself!  It is also one that can be read a stand-alone, if you're willing to plunge in to a reality that's strangely twisted, in which sinister travelers walk through time with the help of a magically complex mechanism.

Two such travelers have travelled through time and space to the coastal town of Nagspeake, seeking to find a conflagrationeer (a person with preternatural gifts for gunpowder and fire), to offer to their dark master.  And they find that the one they are searching for is Liao, Lucy Bluecrowne's little brother.

Lucy and Liao's father is captain of the Left-Handed Fate, a magnificent privateer, but he has decided the days of his children sailing the seas must come to an end--it is too dangerous.  So he has had a house built for them and Liao's mother, Xiaoming, on the cliffs of Nagspeake, a house of lovely stained glass windows and echoes of past homes that  might help Lucy accept life on land.  But her heart belongs to her ship, and she is hurting something fierce.

And then the two travelers hone in on Liao....and he is gone.

And that's enough plot to go on with here!  It is a beautiful, extravagantly visual story that I loved.  Lucy and Liao are great characters, and it is so heartwarming to see young Greenglass House and to know what the future holds for it (this book is almost like time travel itself for us Gg House fans...).  One of my favorite things about Kate Milford's books is the attention to small things that doesn't necessarily Advance the Story, but which make the world real and the characters people to care about.  Here one of my favorite parts were those in which Lucy gets a small boat of her own, and works to make it ship-shape; I have a great fondness for reading about people doing crafty things like this, and although it doesn't get a huge amount of page time, it was lovely reading.

The time travel is a mechanism in service of the story, not a point in and of itself; it's simply one more complicated point in this gorgeously complicated world of tangled threads of story and fate. Though it might seem daunting to readers new to these books, the joy of all the interconnections is that I want to go back now to the beginning (The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands) and read it all all over again, which should see me going back to Gg House in time for Christmas, which is perfect since those are such delightfully Christmas time books!

Kirkus and I march in step on this one--in their starred review, they say "A tale to sweep new and confirmed fans into the author’s distinctively imagined blend of history, magic, mythology, chemistry, and nautical lore."

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. I liked Greenglass House but haven't read any of Kate Milford's other books. I agree about her talent for tending to the small details that make a world feel real. Nicely put.


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