This is a great fantasy book but the fantasy element isnt overplayed, I could best describe the fantasy element as a fairy tale for adults but like I say this in many ways doesnt take centre stage in the story telling.
There is some very, very excellent characterisation in this novel, its a great book of human relations with lots of literary musings on relationships, reflection on feelings, thoughts and action, not least of which are living in the shadow of the great achievements of others, writing and a great love story.
The central male character is anything but heroic, in fact he's pretty weak and surrounded by stronger women, however you dont ever lose sympathy for him and this works well when some pretty nuanced menace and terror creeps into the plotline.
I have to say that there is a real punch in the finish, straight-up human horror, gut wrenching in its simplicity and you share the mix of emotions that it throws up for the characters. However the book doesnt end there, from the shock and awe it progresses to an epilogue which is as uplifting as it is perfect in its economy of words.
I found this book really easy reading, I was sorry when it came to a finish and it was time to say goodbye to the characters, and I'd recommend it to any fans of mind bending fiction like Philip K. Dick's novels, specifically Time Out of Joint or The Cosmic Puppets. It's also a major book for book lovers as the story begins with the meeting of too total bibliophiles. Excellent.