While the actual writing is superb, I found the plot anemic. Hartling has a good handle on his characters’s personalities but at times their actions feel like they are done to facilitate the plot, and not organic actions of the characters as presented.
It’s almost as if Hartling had an amazing idea for a truly disturbing Changling Tale and then chickened out, and went for the happy ending. Because of that, the most excellent tension created in the first half dwindles in the second half and the stakes of the story are lost.
Still, it’s a good read. Like I said the actual writing is outstanding, and the main character, Ben, is easy to relate to, until he gets railroaded into making the plot happen.
To put it another way, I’d read another story by Mr. Hartling, but I wouldn’t reread this story.