Flora Fyrdraaca knows taking shortcuts in Crackpot Hall can be risky. After all, when a House has eleven thousand decaying rooms that shift about at random, there's no telling where a person might end up. But it's not just household confusion that vexes Flora, what with Mamma always away being Commanding General of the Army, Poppy drowning his sorrows in drink, and Crackpot Hall too browken down to magickally provide the clean towels and hot waffles that are a Fyrdraaca's birthright.
Yet Flora is nothing if not a Girl of Spirit. So when she takes a forbidden shortcut and stumbles upon her family's biggest secret--Valefor, the banished Butler--she and her best friend plunge happily into the grand adventure of restoring Valefor to his rightful (or so he says) position. If only Flora knew that meddling with a magicakal being can go terribly awry--and that soon she will have to find a way to restore herself before it is too late.
I love everything about this book. And my love only grew on this, my second read through of Flora's first adventure. Here are some things I love, in list form!
1. The Spanish/Aztec inspired world. Califa sounds fabulous, and the quetzals sound terrifying. The whole thing is so well thought out.
2. The new lingo. I'm pretty sure I'll start greeting people with "ave" and agreeing by saying, "ayah, so." How does Wilce create new slang that, upon hearing it, you think, of course that's what it means!
3. Flora's dysfunctional family. Poppy is one of my very favorite characters, a broken man who lived a horrible life, trying to show his love but mostly coming off seeming very insane. And Mamma is fantastic as the general of Califa, overwhelmed with work but trying to be a good mom all the same.
4. Flora eats! A lot! I love that she is a heroine with some fat on her. And it doesn't matter. She stress eats, she eats because she enjoys it, and then she goes off and does awesome things.
5. Udo is one of the most flamboyantly amazing characters of all time. I love him and Flora together, and it is obvious they are in that great space between Best Friends and True Love.
6. The "Segunda" part of the title comes from the fact that Flora is the second flora that Mamma and Poppy had. Their first daughter named Flora died, so they had another girl to replace her. There is so much deliciously traumatizing about that. Messed up family. See #3.
7. Good people are bad! Bad people are good! The world is not so simple as we'd like.
8. I want a Valefor, even if he is incredibly selfish and cares for nothing but himself. I love him.
Since I love Flora's family, and I love the way Wilce writes, hears a bit of a quote, straight from page 10, so no worries on spoilers.
"When Mamma is home, she gets up at oh-dark-thirty and makes me get up with her, so that we can have family time at breakfast. This, of course, is not really family time, since Poppy isn't there, and Idden isn't there, and the First Flora isn't there. On these occasions, it's just Mamma and me, half a family, having half-a-family time. And since that's all we are ever going to have, that's what we have to learn to like."
Five out of five Dainty Pirates.
Release Date: January 2007
Reading Level: Grade 6+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL WIL
Don't believe me? Check out these reviews of Flora Segunda:
Things Mean A Lot