Flora's Dare

Flora's Dare

by Ysabeau S. Wilce

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Overview

The winner of the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy from the author of Flora Segunda and Flora’s Fury.
 
Flora Fyrdraaca wants nothing more than to be a ranger, and for that she must master the magickal—and dangerous—language of Gramatica. But before she can find the ideal teacher, her aspirations are put to the test. Would a true ranger be intimidated by a tentacle that reaches for her from the depths of a toilet? Be daunted by her best friend’s transformation into a notorious outlaw, thanks to a pair of sparkly stolen boots? Be cowed by the revelation that only she can rescue the city of Califa from the violent earthquakes that threaten its survival?
 
Never. Saving her city and her best friend are the least a Girl of Spirit can do—yet what Flora doesn’t expect are the life-altering revelations she learns about her family and herself.
 
This ebook features a teaser chapter from the third Flora book, Flora’s Fury.
 
“This fresh and funky setting is rich with glorious costumes, innovative language and tantalizing glimpses of history.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
“Wilce creates a fantastic and unique world . . . Guaranteed thrills, chills, and amazing revelations.” —Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
 
“The author had me firmly in her grip and I followed Flora’s magical mishaps, her accidental time travels and the big showdown with great pleasure.” —SFF Book Reviews
 
“Fast moving and fun . . . The action is nonstop, and the characters enchanting.” —SF Site

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547487793
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 04/12/2010
Series: Flora Trilogy , #2
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 912,947
Lexile: 850L (what's this?)
File size: 4 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Ysabeau S. Wilce is the author of Flora Segunda, Flora's Dare, and Flora's Fury, and she has also published work in Asimov's Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Tiptree Award, and Flora's Dare won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Trained as a military historian, she claims to have turned to fiction when the truth no longer compared favorably to the shining lies of her imagination. She lives in San Francisco with her family. Visit her website at www.yswilce.com.

Read an Excerpt

ONE

Dirty Dishes. A Brief Recap. Woe.

Finally, the term was over and two weeks of freedom loomed. Two weeks of freedom from Sanctuary School, that is. There was no escape from Poppy.
     “I think,” I said, sorrowfully, “that I liked Poppy better when he was drunk.” My back hurt from leaning over the sink, and the dishwater was now cold and greasy. Happily, I was on the last pan. It was crusty and black, but it was the last. The last pan, the last chore, and then, I would be free for the first night of term break.
     “There is no pleasing some people,” Valefor replied from his vaporous perch high on top of the kitchen dresser. Valefor was the one who should have been doing the dishes, and everything else as well. Thanks to his banishment, he was a mere wisp, and his helpfulness was limited to criticism, which I did not find helpful in the slightest. And he had to lay low, too. If Mamma discovered him flitting about, he would be in a World of Hurt.
     Valefor continued. “You complained when Hotspur was drunk and wallowing all the time; now he’s straight as straight, and you complain about that, too, Flora Segunda.”
     I put the last pan in the dish drainer, then straightened up, feeling a hundred years old, and as though I’d been washing up for ninety of those years. It was only Mamma, Poppy, and me at home, yet somehow we were generating enough dirty dishes for an entire regiment. Poppy’s fault, really; he was cooking meals big enough for an entire regiment, even though Mamma ate only breakfast at home, I ate dinner at Sanctuary School, and it was usually just Poppy and me for supper.
     “I never thought he’d turn out to be such a tyrant,” I said. “He’s a hundred times worse than Mamma. At least Mamma isn’t around enough to crawl down your throat. Poppy never leaves the house. He’s always here. There’s no escaping. Flynnie, get out of there.”
     At my gentle kick, Flynn slunk away from the garbage can, looking dejected, as though he’d never been fed before in his life. Which was, of course, false, as he’d not only already had dinner, but had licked the plates before I washed them—saves on the scrubbing, you know.
     “Hotspur is overcompensating,” Valefor explained. “He always goes too far. When he was brave, he was the bravest ever. When he was in love, you’d have thought no one had ever loved so much. When he was crazy, no lunatic ever howled so loud. And now that he’s sober, he’s so straight you could rule your paper with him.”
     “Can’t he just be somewhere in the comfy middle?” I pulled the plug and let the nasty water glug out of the sink. There, that was it. Punto finale for Flora and the dishes. Punto finale for my last chore of the day. And not a moment too soon. The kitchen clock was about to chime eight. If I didn’t get a move on it, I was going to be late meeting Udo, and I hate being late. The only thing that it’s good to be late for, said Nini Mo, is your own funeral.
     “No Fyrdraaca ever sat in the comfy middle,” Val pronounced. “We are all about the razor-thin edge of extreme. It’s our family hallmark.”
     “Ha,” I said, sourly, for he was certainly right there.
     “Anyway, you wanted things to change, and they did. So stop complaining.”
     “Ha.” Even more sourly, for he was right there, as well.
     My Catorcena—my fourteenth birthday whereon I became officially an adult—was three months past, and things had changed, and yet nothing at all changed, really. Of course, I hadn’t expected miracles—I wasn’t that childish, even at my most optimistic—but immediately after my birthday celebration, things had looked mighty promising.
     Take Poppy, for example. During the Huitzil War, Poppy had been a prisoner, and almost executed for war crimes. At the end of the War, Mamma ransomed him, but Poppy came home sick, crazy, and a drunk. And so he had remained until finally he had promised to try to forget the woes of the past and stay sober.
     He had kept his promise. But Poppy sober was almost as bad as Poppy drunk, only in an entirely different way. Drunk Poppy was a lunatic. Sober Poppy was a tyrant. A martinet. What in the Army they call a whip. What I call a giant huge pain in my hinder.
     Sober Poppy had turned Crackpot Hall into an Army camp. There was Reveille (Get Up), Mess Call (Get to Breakfast), Assembly (Inspection before Leaving the House), Drill Call (Do Your Homework), Guard Mount (Take the Dogs Out), Inspection (Is Your Room Clean?), Reinspection (What Did I Tell You about Dusting?), Tattoo (Time for Bed), and Retreat (Lights Out). I was surprised that Poppy didn’t actually get a bugle and stand on the stairs sounding the calls. Maybe he just hadn’t thought of that yet.
     Poppy had become a despot who skulked around the house, his face like a block of carved ice. I don’t think Poppy actually slept; he just stayed up all night polishing and dusting, scrubbing or sweeping. Crackpot was still decrepit, but now at least it was clean.
     And cooking. When Poppy was a souse, I would not have pegged him to have much interest in cooking, but now, next to cleaning, cooking was all he did. He made bread and cakes, pies and cookies. Stews and soups, gelées and galantines, roasts and chops, tortillas and tortas. The pantry was full of food, the icebox was full of food, Mamma was full of food, I was full of food, Udo was full of food, even the dogs were full of food. Only Poppy was not full of food; I never saw him eat a single thing.
     All I had wanted was order. Instead, I got tyranny.
     Mamma, of course, was exempt from Poppy’s discipline, as she outranked him, but I had no choice but to hop to. My only relief was school; never before had I been so happy to escape to Sanctuary each morning, and I loitered there in the afternoon as long as possible. But eventually I had to go home.
     The only bright side to Poppy’s behavior was that it was doing a great job of reminding me that I did not want to follow the Fyrdraaca family tradition. Fyrdraacas attend Benica Barracks Military Academy and then go into the Army. As far back as anyone can remember, this is so: Mamma went, Poppy went, my sister Idden went—even the Fyrdraaca dogs have gone. Fyrdraacas are soldiers. It’s our family rule.
     What has soldierly duty gotten this family? Mamma is Commanding General of the Army of Califa and everyone thinks she’s a great hero for saving Califa from the Birdies, as we call the Huitzils. Thanks to Mamma’s peace accord, we are a client state instead of a conquered one. But she’s a slave to duty; she’s hardly ever home, spends all her time pushing paperwork, handling the Warlord, bowing to the Birdie Ambassador, trying to keep the Republic together.
     Poppy was aide-de-camp to the Butcher Brakespeare, the commanding general before Mamma, and narrowly escaped being executed with her. Instead he spent three years in a Birdie prison, where he was abused and tortured. He came home a broken drunken wreck. That’s how soldierly duty worked out for him.
     My older sister, Idden, is what they call a paper--collar soldier—in other words, perfect. She graduated first in her class at Benica Barracks, she’s made captain after only six years out of the Barracks, and may well be commanding general herself one of these days. But now she’s posted to Fort Jones in Trinity Territory, where you could die of boredom and it would take the news two weeks to reach civilization. Now that Califa is a client state, the Army just sits and does nothing.
     And my other sister, the First Flora. Flora Primera wasn’t a soldier, just a six-year-old girl when she was captured with the Butcher and Poppy. When the Butcher was executed and Poppy imprisoned, the Birdies took Flora Primera—and Mamma could never find out what had happened to her. Perhaps the Birdies sacrificed her to one of their bloodthirsty gods. Maybe they ate her, like they ate the Butcher Brakespeare. Maybe they fostered her to a Birdie family and now she’s forgotten all about Califa. Flora Primera wasn’t even a soldier, but she was sacrificed for Fyrdraaca soldierly duty.
     That leaves me, Flora Segunda. I have no intention of wasting my life on soldierly duty.
     I had finally gotten my nerve up to tell Mamma that I did not want to go to Benica Barracks, and that was some nerve, let me tell you, because Mamma is used to being obeyed. To my surprise, Mamma had not exploded at my impudence. Instead, she had promised that she would consider my desire and we would discuss it further.
     Except Mamma never took the time to consider or discuss. Immediately after my Catorcena she’d gone off to Arivaipa Territory on a three-month inspection; she’d only just returned and already the redboxes were piling up in the office, full of paperwork she had missed while she was gone. I had hardly had a minute alone with her since she’d gotten back. When she wasn’t at Headquarters, she was with the Warlord, and when she wasn’t with the Warlord, she was in her study, surrounded by redboxes and her aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Sabre, while various other staff officers tramped in and out, making personal conversation with Mamma impossible.
     I hadn’t yet mentioned to Mamma my specific ranger ambitions; I thought I would take things one at a time. Did Nini Mo wait for her mother’s permission before following her Will? She did not. Nini Mo’s mamma, a wer-coyotl of great power, encouraged her in all ways, but even if she hadn’t, that wouldn’t have stopped Nini Mo. She followed her own Will and let no one stand against her.
     I wiped down the table again and took a last look around the kitchen. I didn’t want to give Poppy any excuse to confine me to my room. So far, I’d been confined for not polishing my boots, for coming to breakfast with my jacket unbuttoned, for giving Poppy an insolent look when he suggested that I run up and down Fyrdraaca Hill several times for exercise, and for not standing up when he entered the kitchen. (Was he my commanding officer? No, but I’m your elder deserving of respect, he had said. Respect!) I didn’t have time to be confined tonight.
     Tonight I had plans.

Customer Reviews

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Flora's Dare: How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Des 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Flora! She is just so real, in how she thinks, behaves, and explains things! Her world is so much like a cartoon, but better. With bigger than life stories, a strange world where things are described brightly, but with hints of darkness, and unexpectedness in every corner.I think its better than the first one. The author seems more settled in who Flora is (or maybe Flora has partly found herself). Its one of the few books where everything is so vividly described that I actually see it, as I read it.
scroeser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the previous book in this series, and was a little nervous when I started this because my expectations were so high... but I haven't been disappointed! I love the writing, I love the story, I love the messages and morals. Even the rather-unravelled ending was something of a relief, because I feel reassured that there will be more coming. Ysabeau Wilce is my favourite writer in the whole wide world.
veevoxvoom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A roving tentacle pops out of a toilet.AWESOME.So begins Flora¿s Dare, the second book in the Flora Segunda series. Now that Flora is fourteen and has survived all the drama of the previous book, she starts turning her mind towards learning magic. Her problem is that there is no one to teach her, but soon Flora becomes embroiled in other problems, such as the squid that lives under the city, her best friend Udo¿s newfound romance, and the startling truth of her own family.I thought Flora¿s Dare was a great continuation of Flora Segunda. It has all the same wit and cleverness, and is laugh-out-loud funny. Flora as a narrator is always charming, even when she¿s complaining about the chores she has to do or moaning about her tyrannical parents. Her family complications, which I mentioned enjoying in my review of the first book, come back, and you see the General, Poppy, and even Idden at their finest (or not).If there is a noticeable change in Dare, it¿s that it reads slightly more adult. People swear and there are definitely sexual undertones in certain scenes. I like it though. One of the things I appreciate about this series is how subversive it can be. Wilce subverts gender cliches in having a woman as the top general, and men who stay home and take care of the children. Flora¿s best friend is an undeniable fop, but his foppishness is not played out to be a weakness. In Dare, when Flora is threatened she warns her enemy that someone big and strong will come and save her, but she refers to this hypothetical person as ¿she.¿Flora¿s Dare is a fantastic, quirky romp. If you haven¿t read the first book, go read it. Then come and gobble this second one up.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ysabeau Wilce needs to write faster. These books are just an absolute delight, and I think I liked Flora's Dare even better than I liked Flora Segunda. Mysteries are solved, more crop up, and Flora's family is fleshed out. Flora is a fabulously believable character who grows and changes in believable ways, despite the fantastical nature of her adventures. I can't wait for the third one! I should probably note that this installment is quite a bit more violent than the first, so while Flora Segunda straddled the line neatly between juvenile and YA fiction, Flora's Dare is much more of a YA novel.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the sequel to Flora Segunda, so I was a little nervous jumping right in since it was over a year ago that I read the first. Well, I needn't have worried. In an entertaining summary that starts out with an odd "what I learned..." essay, Flora breezily narrates her prior adventures and goes right into the current problem. She wants to learn Gramatica (the language of magick), but she has to find a way to get in touch with one of three magick users in Califa, without her parents knowing. In an attempt to do just that, she and Udo go to a club (after telling her parents that they were going to be somewhere else, a place with puppets, where all the 12-year-olds go, not the fourteen-year-olds), where Flora gets attacked by a tentacle while attempting to use the bathroom and Udo zombifies notorious outlaw Springheel Jack.I had a lot of fun with this book. I don't remember why, but I gave the first in the series 4 stars. With this one, I found it inventive and original and liked seeing details from Book 1 crop up again in unexpected ways. The ending is not a cliffhanger, but still leaves room for a sequel that I'll eagerly away.
24girl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Flora¿s Dare is the sequel to Flora Segunda and although there are quite a few references to book one, this book is a stand alone. Flora is a typical teenage girl living in the Magikal city of Califa. Her parents expect her to follow the family tradition of joining the Califa army when she comes of age however Flora¿s secret goal is to become a Ranger. To do this she has to master the Magikal language of Gramatica. Flora is determined to find a teacher so that she can become as powerful as her Ranger hero Nini Mo. Flora¿s plans are all changed as she¿s attacked by tentacle that comes up through the plumbing while attending a concert with her best friend Udo. She narrowly escapes the tentacle and figures out that the creature in the plumbing is the Lolgia monster trapped under the city long ago by a woman threatening to overthrow the government by unleashing the monster. Now Flora has to team up with Lord Axacaya who promises teach Flora Gramatica. Together they can free the monster and save the city. As the story unfolds Flora loses her best friend, gets grounded for passing curfew, travels in time, gets betrayed by someone close to her, discovers the truth about her family and of course saves the city. At first I was hesitant about reading this book. It¿s second in a series that I hadn¿t read and it is 511 pages. However once I started it was hard to put down. Wilce writes a funny story that is great for both YA and adult readers of fantasy books. The magikal city of Califa is very believable and Flora¿s daring adventures keep you turning pages until the end. I will definitely be reading book one and eagerly awaiting book three in the sequel.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I believe this is the second book in a series, I have not read the first one (yet), but I plan to. I loved this book, it was sweet, fun and funny. I picked it up because it won the Andre Norton award in 2008. I can't wait to read Flora Segunda, even if I accidentally read them out of order.
phoebesmum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sequel to the superb 'Flora Segunda', which more than lives up to its predecessor. Now that the world-building¿s out of the way, we¿re free to concentrate on the plot: a whirlwind ride through the streets of Califa as Flora tries to pursue her dream of being a Ranger, find a Gramatica teacher, deal with the fallout of her sidekick Udo¿s latest and most disastrous money-making scheme, come to terms with her saintly sister Idden¿s desertion from the Califa military, fight off many-tentacled monsters in the lavatory, fumble her way through the many-more-tentacled monster of Califa politics, stop a series of earthquakes that threaten to drown the entire coastline, and find a pair of stays that she can run in. Along the way she learns a lot of things she never knew before: mostly, that everything she thought she knew is part of an elaborate political cover-up. And, it turns out, that even she herself isn¿t quite what, or who, she thought ¿If Flora¿s Dare has a fault, it¿s that it follows the structure of the first book too closely, with another trip back into time, another encounter with an important person from her past, and another not-too-surprising betrayal. (If Flora herself has a fault, it¿s that, despite the world she lives in, she can be too naïve and trusting.) Fortunately, this time around, she has more than adequate back-up in the form of her father, Poppy, now stone-cold sober, utterly ruthless, and utterly wonderful.As is the book ¿ the `wonderful¿ bit, at least. I very much hope that there¿ll be a third title in the series. More, if possible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Flora Fydraaca is one busy young lady.

Between her search for a Gramatica instructor, dealing with the fallout of her best friend Udo's moneymaking schemes in the bounty-hunting biz, elder sister Idden's desertion from Califa's military, discovering and thwarting the source of a series of deadly earthquakes threatening the city, a freshly sober and keenly aware father, a burgeoning crush on Califa's greatest living magickal adept and old Fydraaca family enemy Lord Axacaya, tentacles accosting her in public bathrooms, family secrets, assassination attempts, and inadequate sartorial resources - it's a wonder the girl has time to breathe.

At least this time around, Crackpot Manor's one and only accessible potty is up and running...

There is so much going on in FLORA'S DARE that it's by no means an overstatement to call the book a fantasy fiction lover's treasure trove. Author Ysabeau S. Wilce has done a remarkable job creating and populating Flora's world with multiple, complex plots and subplots, and plenty of intriguing information to keep readers coming back for more.

I deeply appreciated the level of sophistication Ms. Wilce has invested in the creation of Flora's world. She easily juggles plot threads without causing any confusion to the reader. By building the backstory of Flora's friends, family, adversaries, and the heroine herself into the narrative, she has created a series that will sustain itself over a number of books, striking the perfect balance between a compelling story and characters that are quirky yet deeply flawed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ever since I have read Flora Segunda, the prequel of Flora's Dare, I have been eagerly waiting for more. Many authors these days shoot for series rather than stand alone novels, but it is not an easy task and one requiring a lot of imagination and ingenuity. It works best when all separate adventures are a part of a bigger arc, and though there are only two adventures so far, I think I have some idea where the general arc is going. The fact that it is not spelled out makes it even more intriguing. The plot revolves around 14-year old Flora Fyrdraaca ov Fyrdraaca who comes from the family of career soldiers, but wants to become a ranger, a sort of spy which is in many ways quite opposite to being a soldier 'more initiative, less orders, more adventures, less boring stuff'. She faces many challenges, including saving her city from ruin, taking enchanted boots off her friend's feet, finding a way to learn magickal language of Grammatica, discovering family secrets and things about herself. The City of Califa, a character herself, is painted with bold beautiful strokes and is full of untamed extravagant characters. In fact 'extravagant' is the best word to describe the wild colorful world which Ysabeau Wilce has created for us. It comes alive with the smell of the trees and the Pacifica, with enchanted houses, magical denizens and exotic adversaries, with colorful costumes and lots of maquilliage. It is a fantastic experience and I am glad that the book is peppered with characters, storylines and facts to be explored in more books to come. My congratulations to Ysabeau Wilce for a wonderful addition to the world of literature. I am also a tiny bit jealous of her incredible way with language.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Flora¿s Dare is the sequel to Flora Segunda and although there are quite a few references to book one, this book is a stand alone. Flora is a typical teenage girl living in the Magikal city of Califa. Her parents expect her to follow the family tradition of joining the Califa army when she comes of age however Flora¿s secret goal is to become a Ranger. To do this she has to master the Magikal language of Gramatica. Flora is determined to find a teacher so that she can become as powerful as her Ranger hero Nini Mo. Flora¿s plans are all changed as she¿s attacked by tentacle that comes up through the plumbing while attending a concert with her best friend Udo. She narrowly escapes the tentacle and figures out that the creature in the plumbing is the Lolgia monster trapped under the city long ago by a woman threatening to overthrow the government by unleashing the monster. Now Flora has to team up with Lord Axacaya who promises teach Flora Gramatica. Together they can free the monster and save the city. As the story unfolds Flora loses her best friend, gets grounded for passing curfew, travels in time, gets betrayed by someone close to her, discovers the truth about her family and of course saves the city. At first I was hesitant about reading this book. It¿s second in a series that I hadn¿t read and it is 511 pages. However once I started it was hard to put down. Wilce writes a funny story that is great for both YA and adult readers of fantasy books. The Magikal city of Califa is very believable and Flora¿s daring adventures keep you turning pages until the end. I will definitely be reading book one and eagerly awaiting book three in the sequel.