I should have liked this book more than I did. I wanted to. The characters are utterly charming, the imagined world is terrific, and there's a decent plot meandering about here and there. Plus a magnificent guard goose!! I'm a big honking geek fan of Joan Aiken, Diana Wynne Jones, Lloyd Alexander - this is a contemporary novel that's right in the sweet spot of that tradition.
And yet. I kept getting bogged down and wandering off to other pursuits. Its not a good sign when I wander off in the middle of a fight scene to read a magazine. I think Hardinge is one to watch, I've really liked some of her work. I even think this one is a mostly good read. But there's something amiss with the pacing. I'm not saying its too slow, I've liked slow books, I've liked fast books. But for whatever reason, in this one I couldn't find a rhythm.