It's appropriate that this was a penguin book because it plodded along exactly like a penguin taking forever to get nowhere. If only the author had let the penguin into the water it could have flown! Or at least flowed. If only the editor had known how to say 'no'.
If only the author had a better vocabulary and not felt the asinine need to run two words together when using the correct word would have worked. That would be vermillion, Kiernan, not orangered. That would be willowy, not skinnytall. That would be corn-colored, not dustyellow and "pollenyellow stalks of goldenrod" would be just "goldenrod." That's what the plant's called, and it's what the color is! Duhh! That would be rat's nest, not ratmaze. That would be mint green, not peppermintwhite. Rustrimmed would be just rusty. Unless of course you simply want to be a tedious and pretentious ass. I guess I'm done reading anything that's passed through the hands of that editor too, if I ever discover her name!
Worse than this, this is book one of a series and in my opinion such books ought to carry a warning along the lines of those on cigarette boxes, but with regard to mental health. This one didn't even have the honesty to so much as declare itself a prologue. Just as bad, it actually contained a prologue! I avoided that like the plague, but this book is pure bait and switch.
This book was some three hundred pages long and could have been quite literally half that size if the author hadn't gone all Stephen King on it - and I mean that in a bad way. Stephen King cannot write a novel without including the entire life history of every character who appears in it, which is why I quit reading Stephen King a long time ago. This author spends the first half of the book telling us the entire life history of the four main characters and it's soooo boring.
The blurb made the book sound interesting - but then it was just doing its job - which in this case was evidently lying about the book. I read the first chapter and found it nothing much, but not awful. The problem was that it really didn't move the story much.
The second chapter was more interesting, but again the story didn't take off; then the third chapter went off into lala-land. I read on to the fourth chapter hoping the novel would get back on track, only to be dragged kicking and screaming even further into lala-land!! I skimmed the next two chapters and still, nothing interesting happened. By this time the book was half over and the actual story hadn't even begun, so that was it for me.
I cannot commend a book which fails to actually tell the story it purports to tell - or at least fails to so much as begin the story in the first fifty percent of the novel! This author must really - and I mean really - hate trees. This also means that I'm not only done reading this author's work, I'm also done trusting any book recommendations from Booklist, Cemetery Dance, Publisher's Weekly, SF Site, or Booklist, and from authors like Clive Barker, Charles de Lint, and Peter Straub, all of whom seem to find this author brilliant and all of whom I am now forced to conclude are gaga (and not Lady, either!). The only comment which actually represented this book came from Neil Gaiman, not my favorite author, but he commented, "Caitlin R. Kiernan is the poet and bard of the wasted and the lost," and I couldn't agree more..