First impression when I finished this one? “Where’s the next!” Second thought, “No, what did I just read?” This is definitely one to go back and re-read for me because there is so much going on in the story line. I’m pretty certain there’s at least another layer below the face value surface, and I want to go back and dig for it. Ailsa does a wonderful job in spinning the tale for its own sake, but there is a complexity that reminds me of some of the classics I’ve read that have multiple layers. It may just be because I enjoyed the tale so much, but I definitely want to find out.
The overall story is neatly summed up in the back cover description, and fully self contained within the covers of the book. There is a definite ending, yet there are enough threads waving in the wind that if you’re just now finding this book you know there’s a follow up to go with it. Not a bad thing, and definitely fans my interest to see just where Ailsa is going to take this tale.
The pace is fairly fast, yet provides a few pauses here and there so you can absorb what just happened, though the introductory scene is a bit of a roller coaster of action, inactivity, and mind boggling information to help get you jump started into the wild ride. There is a bit of an odd break in the flow of the story – a multi-year gap which provides another pausing point to assimilate what has happened up to then. The three distinct story lines do not point at each other until after this point, so if it seems disjointed, don’t worry – it all ties together neatly once all the players are in motion. Once the stories collide, things really take off, and become interesting. Then… well, the book ends. (Thus the first and second impression.)
The characters are very well developed, each as distinct as an otter from a dog, cat, or raccoon. Each has their own unique voice, and quirks. Though one segment seems to be painted as the “bad” side in due to preconceptions, I’m not so certain they really are the enemy. I think they are just the darker balance to the gentler (and more respected) group that is forced to work with them. Overall, the characters from all of the different groups are so well balanced, I actually can’t remember a flaw or virtue that really stands out in any of them. (Which definitely means it’s time for a re-read!)
The world building is superb. Starting with current, modern day Earth, the future Earth is carefully extrapolated and defined with a solidarity that makes it seem like this is one of many likely futures we could be facing. Even the mystical aspects of the world are well crafted, and follow their own internal logic and rules.
Overall, this is definitely a book I know I’m going to be reading multiple times over multiple years. A solid 5 out of 5 stars from me. Now, if only the to be re-read pile wasn’t so deep!