I think I was too excited about this book, because it ended up being something of a disappointment. It's still better than many other of the books I've read this year, because it is Shannon Hale. Her writing is still beautiful, but I didn't think this book lives up to the other Books of Bayern. The plot seemed sort of dull. It lacked some of the sparkle of the other books, and I'll be honest, I know exactly what it is. There's no romance in this story. All of Shannon's other books have a touch of romance, and I think it adds so much. Don't get me wrong, I don't always need romance in a book, but this book felt like it needed it. It started out hinting that there would be, but then it never happened. And maybe that was the problem. Since it hinted at romance in the beginning but was never fulfilled, I waited the whole book for it to come back, but was left feeling empty and disappointed. Maybe I'd like it better if I read it a second time. Like I said earlier, it's still beautifully written and it dealt more with people-speaking (if you've read the other books you know what I mean), which I've always found disturbingly fascinating. In short, good, but not as good as I'd hoped.