I read this book straight through in one sitting, because I simply couldn't put it down. It was quite simply one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read - I place it in the ranks of Pullman's His Dark Materials.
Its deceptively simple writing style builds a vivid world around you as you read, and hurtles you headlong into the story - and promptly embeds the characters inextricably in your heart. The main character, Lina, is as beguiling as they come - spirited, determined, and far, far too nosy. Her friend Doon is adorably scowly and moody, her grandmother delightfully batty, and the mayor of the town so vividly painted that by the time he'd finished his third sentence he stood fully formed in my mind. Although characters aren't this book's only strength...
The plot played out almost like a song, lyrical and swaying, full of the stuff of life. I was filled with humor, curiosity, terror and joy in rapid succession, only to start the cycle again at the next turn of the page - and by the end of the book I must confess I was a bit misty eyed. And, without spoiling anything, I'll say that the last couple of paragraphs filled me with bubbling anticipation, and now I think I'll explode if I don't find out what happens soon!
Come on, Duprau, give us the next book!