By Ysabeau Wilce.
This is a strange sort of book, reminiscent of Alma Alexander's Gift of the Unmage in that a culture somewhat out of the mainstream is represented. It also reminded me of The Ordinary in the way there are so many unexplained threads that probably lead to the short stories Wilce has published in this universe, mentioned on the back flap. It feels like a world where there is more behind the scenery than you get to see in this book.
The story is about Flora Segunda, whom her mother had to replace her first child, also named Flora, who is gone (though perhaps not dead, considering the vagueness with she's referred to). Flora's mother is the General to the Warlord of a subdued nation; what exactly went on between this state and the empire they fought, especially on a personal level between the leaders, is one of the things I'd like to know more about, since it is hinted that things are not exactly what they seem, but never satisfactorily explained.
Anyway, regardless of the political background, this book is concerned with the trouble Flora gets into when she tries to revive her house's magical butler behind her mother's back. You also get the feeling that there's more behind the scenes here with the house's history and her father's past—he lives in the Eyrie at the top of a tower at the top of the house, and it wasn't clear to me in the beginning that he was her father and not her brother, since she calls him Poppy.
Of course, Flora's mother has good reason for locking away the house's butler, and Flora gets into more trouble than she can deal with on her own. The ending seems a little weak, leaving many things unexplained, as I already mentioned. There is supposed to be a sequel, Flora Redux, so perhaps some questions will be answered then, but I suspect more of them are answered in the aforementioned short stories.
It also seems very odd that Flora, nearly 14 years old, sees nothing wrong with climbing under the covers next to her (male) friend Udo, other than keeping his mother from noticing that she's there breaking his curfew, of course.