I really did enjoy this book. I found a million nitpicking things that would normally annoy and distract me from the story, but they didn't work this time. I just kept reading. I'm not saying that Tess and "Garth" and Meg and Poppy were brilliant, groundbreaking characters. But somehow the combination of characters, story, and setting kept me thoroughly engaged, and I read through to the end. Tess was a bit testy...well, a lot of the time...but I could relate to her survival (and feelings of responsibility for) her unhappy family life. and to her wild longings to be elsewhere. It's always nice to have a main female character that longs more for wild woods, dragons, and the sea than for pretty dresses and splendid castles.
More than once throughout the book I kept wondering, "would a girl of that time period, that background, that setting, really know/ do those things? How does a rural peasant in England in the 1100s, for instance, know what color cinnamon is? and what's with the girl in a prom dress hovering over water on the cover? It didn't align AT ALL with the story, as far as I could remember. The ending, more so than the rest of the book, strained credulity a bit. It felt a bit over the top.
and yet, when it came down to it, all the little aggravations couldn't distract me from enjoying the book. I'd like to read more by the author, but I probably won't read the book that came before this one, because I feel like I know the whole plot from it being recapped a lot in this book...it didn't negatively affect the telling of this book, but I don't feel there would be many surprises left if I went back and read it right now.
I am sort of hoping for a follow up book to this, though. Jackrun may be the weirdest name for a character ever, but he is certainly set up to be interesting.