I originally got this without even reading the summary, because it’s Jacqueline Carey and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna follow wherever her writing career takes her. This was different from everything else she’s written — less dense, less lush in terms of prose, and less complicated in terms of plot. Basically all you need to know is: supernatural community in small-town USA, boy turns up drowned with signs of magic around the circumstances, our heroine investigates. The rest is, at least at this point, mostly set dressing.
I did like that the heroine has several strong female friendships, and a strong relationship with her mother, and she cops to her daddy issues too. I’m not sure where this is going in terms of which guy/s she dates, and I’m not that invested in the question, but I’m not completely bored by any of her potential relationships either.
I do agree with some of the more negative reviews that a bit baffled that Carey went from the lush prose of the Kushiel and Naamah books to “gah!” and “ummm” and “totally” and so on. Once I figured out it was in a whole different register, style-wise, I just read it as I would any urban fantasy.
The world building is interesting, and not fully explained. This bothers some people; it doesn’t bother me. There’s a sense of a fragmented community here, supernatural beings-wise, and that they just pull together where they can and try to eke things out for themselves. It doesn’t seem like it’s some kind of easy co-existence: there’s hate and fear as well as fascination and tourist attractions.
I liked this well enough, but I don’t know that I found it special. I’m going to try the next book and see what that does for me.