I knew by the second paragraph that I was going to like it and I did. No spoilers.
I've heard other people complain about it, saying it was boring, nothing happened, or that the author was trying to sound like Austen. I can't blame them for not liking it. This book lives and dies on the narrative voice, and if you don't like that you're not going to like the book.
What I liked best about the narrative voice was the way it deepened the characterization and contrasted with the utter strangeness of the magic and faeries. After so many pages of amused commentary on the foibles of the human characters, the fearful sociopathy of the gentleman with the thistle-down hair was bracing.
The ending was a bit telegraphed, but no more than it would be in a genre movie. I knew what would happen, but not how.
Very nice. I hear Susanna Clark is working on a sequel. I wish she wasn't. I wish she was writing something different.
Also, something happened to me with this book that has never happened before. Of all the used books I've bought (this one was from a library sale) I've never found anything belonging to a previous reader in them. This time I found a picture of a woman on the snowy side of a hill or mountain and she bent down and posed with a snowman. I left the photo in the book. I didn't feel right throwing it out and I certainly have no use for it. Weird that it should finally happen just as I read talk about it in a couple of blogs.
I also read this:
It was fine. It was good. The story was solid, the character revamps were interesting but not revelatory.
It was all the usual stuff, though. The same misunderstood, bullied male lead who has the interest of an amazing girl that he doesn't know what to do with. The same reflexive heroics.
It's not bad, but it's not satisfying, either.
This is the difference between the Astro City books I read last December and the Marvel/DC books I'm reading now. In Astro City, you had the idea that anything could happen. The characters could change in any way the story requires, including dying.
With the Marvel/DC books, even written by the same excellent writer (Kurt Busiek), have the feeling of corporate properties. The characterizations are carefully bounded and you know they simply won't go into dangerous territory with them.