This book was recommended to me by a reading friend here in Charleston, as "amazing." Because I lived in a hole for the year this book was published, and then had the hole filled in on top of me the following year, I'd missed all the hype about this book. It has some strong point, it has some eye-rolling-even-with-magic/faith/mystery-I can't-believe-this moments, but overall, the things I liked outweighed the bits that irritated me.
I like books that weave history with modern day, and this book did that for not one, but several stories: the stories Marianne Engel tells the the main character (I don't think he's ever given a name in the book) about their past, and the tales she tells him of others. I think the setting of their backstory in fourteenth-century Germany, the monastery and scriptorium were some of my favorite parts. Having worked some years in my nursing career with burn victims, the aspects of burn care/treatment/recovery were also interesting.
I can see where some readers might find the story poorly plotted, but the problems I had were mostly of my own making. I often read before falling asleep, and sometimes tend to "rest my eyes" with the book open. When I finally do put down the book to turn out the light, my bookmark usually goes to the open page, not where I was when I first began to nod off. Normally this doesn't present a problem, but with so many characters in Marianne's stories to her burned man, when they resurfaced again, I'd have to pause to dig deep to remember who the hell Davidson was talking about. My other problem was, I really disliked my professor who did the seminars on Dante at University, and am woefully ignorant of Inferno.
Quite the ambitious project for a debut novel.