Simply put, gorgeous. It has a deep, quiet quality to it that's hard to express when you're still reeling from it. The atmosphere in this book is chilling. This is a universe that feels both so near and so far from reality, with a lively sense of wonder, magic, and fantasy glitter thrown into the humdrum daily lives of the population. It IS a slow start and the characters seem to need more time to settle into themselves and breathe, but once the action begins, it continues at a perfect pace, never too fast, never too slow, and building up to a perfect little crescendo of action that did in fact have me cheering quietly while I read.
Even though there's a decent amount of blood (fairytales are, at their heart, about blood, you know), it never gets too bleak, and is in fact perfectly suitable for a teen looking for something a bit more adult and serious without fear of ruffling parents' collars: there's little to nothing inappropriate in these pages. It's a coming-of-age tale with lots of magic and a sparkling protagonist, all set in a beautiful, snowy, woodsy landscape.