When I started reading this I was unsure of how I was going to describe it. At the beginning of the story (with the exception of Alban) everything is very normal - almost too normal. We are pulled into Alban's world slowly, it unfurls before the reader as Margrit is drawn into the conflict and tensions between the races. So for readers who prefer their urban fantasy to open with an attack of zombies, a mob of rabid vampires or a big explosion, this may not be one for you.
Having said that I thought the story was incredibly well constructed. It's 'bookended' with similar scenes between Alban and Margrit, they've come full circle, but everything in Margrit's life has changed. We experience both Margrit and Alban's point of view, and his view of humans and the world around him helps solidify in your mind that he is something other than human. It's also very important to pay attention to what's going on in the background. A couple of times a character said something along the lines of - we saw that the other day when we were at the office - and I was thinking 'did we?' and lo and behold when I skipped back (rewound :) ), we had.
As a relationship builds between Alban and Margrit, they go from caution, to comrades, and towards the end they have a wonderfully subtle eroticism that was first hinted at during their meeting as strangers on a dancefloor. I'm very interested to see how their relationship evolves, as a romantic involvement with a human is considered taboo.
I like the set-up of the world. The five remaining Old Races - dragon (fire), djinn(air), selkies (water), gargoyles (stone) and vampires (other). Plus there are a couple of oddballs in there, who I hope will be making appearances in the next books. All the races have their own secrets, and as Margrit is pulled further into the world of the Old Races, we come to see that everyone has at least one ulterior motive, and some characters seem to have several.
I did have a couple of problems. I felt Margrit changed about 90 pages in, and that the character I'd initially been introduced to wasn't quite the same person. There are also three 'literally's', but I admit this is the first story I've read this year where it didn't bother me too much.
In Heart of Stone we learn about the world of the Old Races as Margrit learns, but at the end of the story, so much still remains a mystery, leaving you hungry to find out more. Why is Alban referred to as 'The Breach', and what favours is Janx going to ask Margrit for? In Margrit's conversation with Alban at the end of the book, she sets out her mission statement.
"Laws, Alban," Margrit said clearly, "are for reinterpreting, rebuilding, negotiating and discarding when they no longer make sense within the confines of a society. I'm not quitting just because the going's getting tough."The story continues in House of Cards (March 2008).