This is 510 pages of Victorianesque reading, folks. I enjoyed that aspect very much. The characters are very well developed and enjoyable. While there seems to be a lot of characters to follow, it is a long book, so it becomes fairly easy to remember who everyone is, if only because there are many pages devoted to each scene of the book. The author does a wonderful job of not jumping around too quickly.
Ivy is a book lover. She has two sisters, Rose and Lily. In order to keep them straight I remembered "IRL"; that's the abbreviation for "in real life". That reminded me Ivy is the oldest and Lily the youngest. From there on it was pretty easy to remember the characters because they were interesting.
The book was written on the premise of the author wondering "what if" the social circumstances written of in Victorian books were due to a specific reason. Now that I know that I find it very interesting. However I also feel that the author could have developed many of the details of the storyline more fully. The plot felt, to me, very "sci-fi" for a book set in the Victorian era. The tale involves magicians and witches and animated, living trees that seem to have a will of their own.
The setting is "Altania", a fictional land.
There are three parts to this book. The first and third are written in the same voice. The second part is written as Ivy writing missives to her father who suffered an indecipherable breakdown prior to the beginning of the story. While this part feels somewhat less sophisticated than the other two parts, it was still enjoyable to hear Ivy's thoughts as the story progressed.
Overall, I believe I am happy with the story. That's a lot to say of a book that is 510 pages long. I certainly had no preconcieved ideas, aside from the fact that two women to whom I have similar reading tastes enjoyed the book. I would have been even happier with it though if the author had explained more fully some of those things that are very specific and peculiar to the plot. I felt he allowed us to just suspect some things...to be intuitive of them. While it was possible to intuit, I also sometimes find that dissatisfying; I want to know what the author was thinking as he wrote the story. I want to see his vision for it. I also felt he ended the story a bit abruptly too, whereas, I felt he could have added much greater depth to the very ending. The summation felt rushed.
The House at Durrow Street is the sequel to follow The Magicians and Mrs. Quent.