I thought this was very well written. The plot built quickly and easily, the story moved along smoothly and the characters were well-drawn and believably written. The one and only quibble I had was the cliffhanger ending. The book felt unfinished and I felt kind of cheated and a little angry and admiring of the author all at once. I felt cheated of a proper ending, because of the way she wrote the lead-in to the next book. Normally books -- even books that are in series -- can stand alone, to some extent. When it's the first book of a series, I don't think I've ever read one before that so completely and blatantly requires the reader to continue to the next book to gain any sort of resolution. Because of that, I felt a little angry with the author, as though she was trying to "get one over" on me. At the same time, I admired the perceived deviousness of her technique. The story was so well written, the characters so engrossing that even though I'm upset at the lack of resolution to anything in the first book, I'm definitely going to read the next.I haven't read the next book yet (obviously, because I don't think it's even published, grrrr), but I suspect that they should have been published as a single volume. I don't know if that was her decision or her editors, but it just wasn't cool to leave the ending with so many things up in the air and no semblance of a resolution.*** Edit ***It's now January of 2010, and I actually don't remember this book well enough to want to read the second book anymore. All I can remember is my anger at the author's cliffhanger ending. I've always disliked cliffhanger endings, and after reading this book in August, it blossomed into an absolute hatred. I honestly can't recall much of the writing, characters, or pacing. I'm surprised I gave it such a good review when I'm still so upset, months later, with the author for the cliffhanger ending, the absolute lack of any resolution whatsoever. I am not going to read any more books by this author, ever.