Y'know, I'm not quite sure what to think about this book. :) I can safely say that I enjoyed it very much. I can also say that I spent a good part of the books with a tickle of confusion in the back of my thoughts.
Basically, it's the story of two men, Felix and Mildmay, as their lives get turned upside down. Felix Harrowgate is a wizard and Mildmay the Fox is a thief who get thrown together by a catastrophic upheaval in their city of Mélusine.
Sarah Monette is a wonderful writer and a detailed and skilled world-builder. The thoroughness with which she creates her worlds is almost too much at times. Too much for me - hence the tickle of confusion I mentioned. For instance, the way time is told throughout her world. There are two different ways. The non-nobility/non-wizarding folks use a system that is based on multiples of seven. And there are no years, they are termed as indictions. It seems that the wizards and nobility reckon time as we do with years and days and stuff, but there is not a lot of that in Mélusine - maybe in the following books? There are also different types of wizards throughout the different lands, like different religions, and it felt as if we had to meet all of them. There is just a lot of different information that is presented and I'm not convinced it was all needed.
Felix spends the majority of the book descending into madness. It's not easy to read but you certainly experience the depths of his despair and hurt and anger. You also begin to get a handle on how he feels about his relationship with Mildmay.
And Mildmay experiences his own type of madness throughout the book. He's in uncharted territory and feels quite ill-prepared to deal with it all, as well as dealing with Felix.
The whole book felt like it was laying the basis for the real story that is to come. We get to know Felix and Mildmay, but I don't think we come know all of their secrets. We also get to meet a bunch of characters who sort of disappear off the page and I'm left wondering where they are and what they're doing. The resolution of both Felix's and Mildmay's challenges at the end of the book felt rather too easy considering what both had been put through, which is another reason I'm thinking there must be more that's going to pop up and bite us in the next volume of the Doctrine of Labyrinths.
I must also say that the very ending of the book is such that, while not being an actual cliff-hanger (tied to the tracks and the train is coming), you know you HAVE to read the next one. *LOL*
But be that as it may, I enjoy Sarah's writing and her characters are always different and unique. I'll be adding the other books in this series to my TBR pile. :)