Let me preface this review by saying that I really, really wanted to like this book, and I’m so very thankful that by the end I truly did enjoy it. I wanted to like it because I am a fan of Robin McKinley and love her work. With that being said, I was caught off guard with this book. I’m not sure what type of book I expected it to be, but it wasn’t anything that I was imagining. The story is more science fiction than fantasy which was the first kink in my expectations. The second was the use of nonsense words within the text of the story, which didn’t really work for it in this novel. The third was the beginning half of the novel where there tends to be a lot of occurrences where the characters mind will begin wondering aimlessly during conversations. These meanderings off topic were quite lengthy and put me off of the story for a period. However, I was very glad that I stuck with it because it was a truly enjoyable adventure that I immediately recommended to my daughter.
The great thing about Robin McKinley is her use and characterization of animals (and/or creatures such as the shadows.) There are not too many authors who can really bring to life our pet companions that way that Robin McKinley can do so deftly. She uses them in the craftiest of ways and by the end of the book you love them all and wish you could adopt them all. This wasn’t my favorite novel by her, but it is certainly worth the read.