Flora Segunda



Mild fantasy doesn't quite know where it's going.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character skips school, lies, forges, and steals, all for what she thinks is a good cause, of course.


Some mild fantasy violence. Flora thinks she sees a man killed (she's wrong), and worries about being eaten by a monster.


Some kissing.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and drunkenness, cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that compared with most fantasies this is pretty mild -- no big battles, little real violence.

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What's the story?

Flora lives in a decaying house with 11,000 rooms. Her mother, a general, is rarely home. Her father, mostly insane, potters around in his room and occasionally emerges to destroy things. Her 14th birthday is approaching, and she is supposed to make a dress and write a speech for it, and then enter the army barracks for training, which she doesn't want to do.

One day, in a hurry, she foolishly takes an unreliable elevator in her house, and finds herself in a hidden library where she meets Valefor, her home's magical butler who has been banished by her mother. Resenting her mother, and the endless chores she has to do because of Valefor's banishment, she agrees to help him gain strength and return. But she doesn't know what she's getting herself into.

Is it any good?


Rookie novelist Ysabeau Wilce based this book on short stories she wrote, and it shows -- it reads like a mishmash of ideas, and frequently loses narrative propulsion as the author explores some byway.

That said, FLORA SEGUNDA is not without charm. Both major and secondary characters are winning, and Wilce's quirky imagination gives the fantasy world she creates the flavor of something new. Her way of combining formal fantasy-speak with made-up words and phrases based in different languages, and anachronistic expressions from our own world, shouldn't work, but somehow does, infusing the book with a lightly humorous feeling. Readers who love fantasy, but could do without the "battle between good and evil" storylines and the violence they entail, may find this odd duck of a novel curiously satisfying.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the odd world, with made-up words, creatures based on myth, and an unusual form of magic. How does magic work in this world? What is the nature of the Great Houses and their denizens? What does Flora understand at the end of the book that she didn't at the beginning?

Book details

Author:Ysabeau S. Wilce
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harcourt Brace
Publication date:January 1, 2007
Number of pages:431
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Read aloud:10
Read alone:11

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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