Ok, I have not been this excited over a YA fantasy book in... I think ever. Ever!
This was awesome!
It gripped me, my son & my daughter and wouldn't let go! We were on the edge of our seats, devouring this.
It starts with a prologue, a quasi-dream sequence, that only an established author like Garth Nix is allowed to write, but it's awesome, clueing the reader into the Fey / fairy aspects of this tale right away.
Eighteen-year-old Susan Arkshaw is off to London, to find an apartment and a job and get settled before starting art school. She also wants to spend the summer looking for her father, a man her mother's mind is a bit too addled to rightfully recall or talk about at length. But Susan has gathered a few clues over the years: a lighter case with a design of a mountain; a book checkout slip, written in faded, unreadable ink; "Uncle" Frank's address, from his mailed birthday gifts; and her mother's frequent references of Trafalgar Square.
The first person she approaches in London is her "Uncle" Frank, but she knows something's very wrong about him, almost immediately. She truly has no idea.
Enter the actual start of the story and the meet-cute, all at once, when Merlin, a left-handed, devilishly good looking bookseller of titular promise, pricks Uncle Frank with a magic hatpin in Uncle Frank's living room and Uncle Frank ... unravels. Sort of dissolves, into dust. In front of Susan.
A "bug" attacks them, and a black fog creeps into the apartment and Susan follows Merlin out the window. From that point forward, the book barrels into a thriller-type plot, with fast-paced twists and turns and all of them mind-boggling but not to Susan, who somehow isn't surprised to learn of the Old World. Somehow it feels...right.
If I say one more word I'll ruin this, as there's a traitor in their midst and at least part of the story is spent trying to figure out who's using Old World magic in conjunction with New World gangs and thugs to chase down Susan. And of course, figure out who, exactly, is her dad?
There's a crush on Merlin, but they have no time for lip gazing nonsense! They're trying to survive.
I loved this story! I loved the fast pace, loved the characters, and loved that Susan's arc is to become more ... her, as a young adult should. Awesome read! I hope you devour it the way we did (stealing it from each other whenever possible!). Enjoy!