Overall, I'm enjoying the book. It's well-written with lovely descriptions and distinct character voices. The plot is centered primarily around character development so far, which suits me fine. The characters themselves are a bit of a mixed bag for me. There are three point-of-view characters, Lady Henry, Dorina Gray, and Evadne Gray - listed in order of my current appreciation for them. As this is, thus far, a novel heavily focused on character development, I'll dedicate most of my first impressions on them.
Lady Henry: So far, she's the most compelling character for me. There is this idea that our favorite characters say something about who we are (or who we want to be) and in this case, I can see it. Lady Henry and I share some basic philosophies; an appreciation for aesthetics, an understanding of the fluidity of existence, the near-sacredness of a person's ability - and right - to forge their own path, and a firm grip on the notion that we can only be responsible for our own actions. That being said, there are certainly many sides to Lady Henry that we have not seen, questions yet to be answered, and in all likelihood, something sinister resting beneath the surface. As I said, she's the most compelling character to me, which (if my record has anything to say about it) means that she's either a deity-in-disguise or a particularly cunning villain.
Dorina Gray: She is an amusing character for me; the kind of character that I like having in a story if only because her boundless enthusiasm for discovery drives the narrative in a pleasant, if not reckless, manner. She is the youngest of the POVs and it shows, but she is written in a way that makes me want to give her room to explore and see what trouble she can get herself into. That being said, her tenacity and naivety are a dangerous combination; you don't even need to read the synopsis to figure that out. I appreciate her cunning - even if she seems a bit out of her depth compared to Lady Henry - and the small ways we see her expanding her mind and examining her own behaviors.
Evadne Gray: She has been exasperating to me. When I read the synopsis of this book, and then Evadne's first chapter, I was concerned that her story would involve some man swooping in, curing her of her insecurity and awkwardness by showing her how special and unique she was and then the pair would ride off into the Victorian fog. Now, I'm hoping that man arrives soon because she is driving me up the wall. My instinct is to be sympathetic, Evadne and I are the same age and much of her insecurity about being the odd-one-out resonates with me. Her social awkwardness and discomfort with unusual situations/surroundings is something many people can relate to. However, her coping mechanisms for these negative feelings are starting to get to me. She compounds her discomfort with internal negativity and presses that negativity onto those around her. I think we all have that friend/acquaintance who never seems to have anything good to say about anyone or anything; well Evadne is that friend. To her credit, she recognizes when she's been especially rude. To her discredit, the realization spawns a wave of guilt and internal promises to make amends (promises which she has not yet kept). Despite realizing that she's reacting in ways that often make matters worse, she is - as of yet - unable or unwilling to make changes in her behavior. Despite all that, I do have some hope for her. She has the potential to be a vibrant, compelling character but it really is going to take someone to help draw her out of her negativity and begin to accept and embrace her own strengths.
With part one finished, I'm excited to move on to part two and, as of now, would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys character-driven novels and has a penchant for Victorian-Gothic fiction.