When Leo finds a mysterious book that seems to write itself, he is fascinated by its story. It's an escape from the dreary world of his pious Grandmother, saintly brother, and harsh military academy. In its tale of adventure and intrigue, Leo loses himself - until he begins to wonder about the disturbing parallels between his world and and the world of the story. Is the book just fiction, or is it telling a truth that the tyrannical government will do anything to suppress?
Frankly it was confusing. Interesting, touching, even tragic at times... but confusing.
There were more or less three semi-overlapping storylines: Leo, looking back on his life from an indefinite time in the future; Leo, in the present, reading the book; and the book's story. In addition there were quite a few characters to keep track of and in general the whole thing was just overly complicated. I spent the first half of the book mostly lost, and I'm still wondering about a few things.
That said, I liked the interesting intersection of England and Malonia, Leo's world, and the plot line was somewhat interesting. So it redeemed itself a little, after I started to get my bearings.
The characters were excellent, with the minor exception of the prince who I found to be a complete wimp. They were plausible, three-dimensional, flawed, and yet appealing. When one character died, I actually teared up, I was so upset.
Decent. Could have been better, but also could've been worse. It was a little (rather a lot) detail-heavy and slow, but also at times touching and sweet.
End Result: three stars. A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.