I purchased this book last Christmas while visiting a friend in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He offered me a money-back (and then some!) guarantee: "Buy this book," he said, "and if by page 75 you don't believe it's the best book you've ever read, call me and I'll send you $50 (Canadian!) to cover your expenses." I bought it and tucked it away at the bottom of my reading stack. It finally found its way to the top two weeks ago, and I can say with certainty my friend will be keeping his $50. As almost all of the other reviews indicate, this is a fascinating, absorbing, powerful novel. MacDonald's characters are alive, and she draws the reader into the plot line with incredible subtlety and richly described settings. She has created and offered easy access to worlds both real and imagined. If you appreciate good writing and a great story, buy this book and read it. You won't want your money back!