An interestingly creepy book marred by stereotypical, sometimes downright inaccurate, portrayals of India and non-white characters.Bray does an excellent job of capturing the shifting alliances among adolescent girls, the way that friendships form and reform under the pressures that these girls are subjected to. The main female characters cover the different ways that women are trapped in this society -- those that are beautiful or rich are merely marriage material, while those that are lower-class and unlovely are at the bottom of the totem pole, only able to aspire to work as a governess.Unfortunately, in her quest to write a feminist book, Bray makes the common mistake of sacrificing characters of color along the way. Gemma's Indian caretaker/nemesis hides in a group of "Gypsies", because one brown-skinned man is interchangeable with any other. The society that this Indian boy belongs to is tasked with preventing women from exercising the magical powers they possess. It's disappointingly two-dimensional and does no justice to the Indian characters in their own right.I will read the other books in the trilogy with the hope that Bray manages to improve on these weaknesses.
Decent enough mystery hindered by an unlikeable, and worse, incompetent main character. I found it hard to sympathize with him, and the subplot of his troubled marriage was so underdeveloped that it seemed unnecessary. The tone also seemed inconsistent to me -- wacky introductions of a renegade chicken and a bubbly psychic only detracted from the main plot.