This follow up to White Apples is essentially more of the same, which should please Carroll fans. It reads more like a series of magical set pieces than a normally structured novel, however, and for this reason I found the ending rather a disappointment. I had the impression Jonathan was making it up as he went along. So often was one of Vincent's difficulties solved by some kind of magical intervention you realise that no matter how dire the situation some kind of rabbit will be pulled from the hat to solve the problem. You can never see them coming, so while they do delight they also frustrate, with a feeling of being rather cheated of a plausible explanation.
The other irritating thing are the loose ends. For example, at the end of one chapter Vincent sees the future of Isabelle's hand - minus one finger. It's a startling chapter end, but is never referred to again, the finger is not lost, and there is no explanation. A neat trick to keep you reading, but you're left thinking maybe Jonathan just fogot about it. Then there's the repetition, for the benefit of those whohaven't read the first book - the repeated explanation of the mosaic, for example. One of the usual pleasures in a Jonathan Carrool novel is seeing how a realistic situation and setting are suddenly subverted with a dip into fantasy around a third the way through the book. Here no realistic setting ever occurs, and we go straight to the magical world, which rather dilutes its power.
Perhaps these are minor flaws; I've given this four stars as there are so many wonderful moments in it, but I don't feel they add up to a fully satisfying novel. Hopefully the final book will resolve the many mysteries without resorting to the kind of sudden magical explanations used here. A must for fans, of course, but those new to Carroll are best advised to begin elsewhere, perhaps with Sleeping in Flame