I have to be honest... This book got off to a s-l-o-o-o-w start for me. I had probably read about a third of the book or more before things picked up. I can't say that Henry's backstory about his family situation added much to the book, either--it didn't seem very relevant to the plot, but rather a chance to introduce the idea of the possibility of having a parent who turns out to be a homosexual. And no, I am not suggesting there is something wrong with that, and I assume that Brennan gives us so much insight into Henry in the "real world" for characterization purposes. I just didn't feel that it fit in with the point of the story or Henry's role in it--helping Pyrgus to get back to the Faerie Realm. (So in all fairness, parents should know the topic of homosexuality is addressed in this book, as it is a young adult title, and should be prepared to discuss this with their children.)I'd say the characters and plot were generally above average, though there were some typical flaws. As for characters, there are a few in this novel that are pretty enjoyable. My favorite is probably Pyrgus' sister, Holly Blue (aka Serenity)--she's full of spunk and very likeable. Mr. Fogarty is an interesting old man, too. I was surprised to find out his former "occupation," and I'll leave it at that. Brennan leaves you with no doubt who the good guys and bad guys are in this book--those "bad guys" are downright evil! The plot is pretty good, with enough twists and turns (once the story got going) to keep it moving, though it is unfortunately not without a few cliched and conveniently-timed events. While the general story is actually rather dark, there is humor interspersed to lighten the mood at appropriate times. All-in-all I liked this book well enough that I plan to read the sequel, The Purple Emperor.