It's like the mutant YA love child of Gormenghast, Tad Williams' Otherworld books, and the Hungry City Chronicles by way of Lord of the Flies and starring Jack Bristow from Alias as the Warden. The two main characters are deeply flawed but also intelligent and sympathetic, the supporting cast are varied and well-drawn, the plot is deep and convoluted without being opaque, and Catherine Fisher's descriptions make me want to lick the page
penwiper26, remember your post about The Queen of Attolia? I was reading this book doing the "Check, check, check..." thing as well. It started here:
Dazzled, she withdrew her eye from the lens. When she turned to face him tiny flickers of light blurred her sight, played over his tangle of dark hair, his narrow face and spare figure, the unlaced tunic under his robe.At which point I had to put the book down and say "GUH." right out loud.
"He's brought the wedding forward," she said.
Her tutor frowned. "Yes. Of course."
Anyway, this is the kind of book that could spawn an entire fan community full of plotty multi-chapter genfic, insanely loyal factions for each of the characters and ship wars all over the place, if anybody outside the UK had heard of it. Though I hear that Catherine Fisher is going to be published in the US soon, if she isn't already -- seems she's written quite a few books and I am now going to have to track them down and read them ALL.
Do I need to say it? Recommended.