MORE LIKE THIS PLEASE! I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this book. It's fantastic. The plot is paced perfectly, the characterization is great and the world Mr. Read has created is magnificent. I saw a few nods to [a:Charles Stross|8794|Charles Stross|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1355510574p2/8794.jpg]'s Laundry Archives series - I believe readers who like the Laundry stories will appreciate this book too.
Mr. Read draws an abstract picture of the unnamed, generic city the story takes place in; his command of the language draws sparse and unobtrusive descriptions that I was able to fill in. The protagonist Lark is an anti-hero - which I always appreciate, and the antagonists and supporting characters are each drawn with depth and unique voices.
Magic, in this story, isn't defined as much as it's described. It's a function of discipline and will, and Mr. Read draws heavily from a number of traditions to enrich the world and edify the reader. Suffice to say that while the plot is entirely driven by magic, this is not some wishy-washy fairy tale with clear lines between Good and Evil. Lark has to make some very important choices in this story, and unlike so many other protagonists in this genre he's not always motivated by what is Pure and Noble.
The finale left plenty of room for sequels, and I sincerely hope that Mr. Read writes them. This book is a great antidote to the glut of romance oriented paranormal fiction; the only romance in this book is a long dead failed relationship that Lark hasn't been able to move past. The world, and the way magic works in it, is consistent and interesting without detracting from the human element of the story.