I was a bit hesitant about buying this book at first. I downloaded a sample, hemmed and hawed, and finally just bought the thing because I couldn't stop wondering what happens next. At first, the book seemed cluttered with a bunch of supporting characters. I felt like I was trying to wade through who was important and who wasn't, and the dream sequences were confusing. But hang in there! I was so glad I did. One thing did hook me pretty quickly, and that was the main character, Imogen. She's what made me take the plunge and buy the book. Despite what seemed like a slow start, I really wanted to find out what happened to her. She's a really great heroine: funny, strong-willed, smart... I could go on and on about her. She leaves so many of today's teen heroines in the dust. Imogen is not the type to sit around and mope after some mysterious supernatural boy. Nope. She's entirely, engagingly human, thrust into a world of supernatural danger in which she has a very pivotal role. She's proud of who she is and wouldn't be anyone, or anything, else than a kind, strong-willed, smart and brave human teenager.
A supernatural world has existed right under Imogen's very nose since she was born. But when this world rises up and consumes her, taking some of her old friends along and bringing new ones, she accepts these changes with the perfect mix of awe and fun. With Imogen, it's not a case of, "Oh, I can't believe it, vampires and magic exist, who ever would have guessed." Nope. Instead of taking half the book to puzzle things out and come to terms with the supernatural, her thoughts are more along the lines of, "Vampires? Magic? Cool! Let's go visit the underworld." Lucius is also great. He, also, is a character who is pretty much at peace with who he is, his vampiric nature is dangerous and sexy, protective yet supportive. I also love it that Imogen has her pick of more than one boy, and that there's no immediate sense that anyone's fated to be with anyone else. (Although I'm a strong Lucius supporter, fiery Irish teenagers are pretty great too). Porter has a real gift with characters. By the time the book is a third of the way through, I was totally into it. I loved the fire-casting Irish teenager, the fact that the supernatural gifts in the book all came with heavy price tags for the users, the vivid descriptions of setting (who wouldn't want a huge beautiful snow globe for a bedroom?), the well-drawn villains who sometimes also happen to be friends... This book is very creative, and once you get past a bit of a slow start and some confusing initial dream sequences, the pace is good, too. Plenty of action and mystery and romance.
As far as the down sides, I've already mentioned a slow and heavy start. The dream sequences eventually make sense, but to have all that information thrust on me at first was kind of confusing. Also, the book's ending gets a bit confusing, but the fabulous characters and the setting make it a worthwhile read. Since this is a series, just enough threads are left hanging that I want to buy the next to find out what happens. The book suffers from a very common indie pub problem: needs better editing. I am not a grammar/typo cop, though, so it didn't bother me. This book stands poised on the edge of a three and a four, but it's creative enough that I'm edging towards four.