"Is it very... debutey?" she asked with a laugh.
Honestly? It was a bit. It had a good story, with good knowledge of the period (so far as my layman's knowledge goes) and thoughtful plotting. But it was... debutey.
I read the first four scenes one day, very much with a critical writer's eye; I didn't like two of the scenes and thought they could have been summed up later on in the story. The first few scenes seemed disjointed to me; I put the book aside for a few days.
I picked it up again one Sunday, read a bit more... and kept reading till I finished it, that same day.
It's certainly interesting; it makes you keep wanting to read on, to find out what happens next. The ending surprised me, in a good way; it wasn't the predictable happily-ever-after.
Reading it with my critical writer's eye, I did notice some technical issues that I would have wanted to change. One example: As the heroine goes on her quest, she passes through various lands of weird and wonderful creatures. Interesting? Sure. Important to the plot? Not that I could see.
Yet when I put down the book, I realised I wanted to read on. I wanted to know what happened to the characters next; I wanted to follow them in their next adventures. I was fond enough of the three main characters that when something awful happens to one of them, I was upset.
To me, that's the sign of a good book. I've studied "well-written" books at university that are chock-full of symbolism and themes and so on; and I enjoy those books. But for leisure I prefer light escapist reading, with characters I can care about and a story I want to read on about.
I also think the author is really sweet, both from her blog and from the fact that she was nice enough to send me a signed bookplate and bookmark with her art on it. It may be an inexpensive gesture, but it's a really nice one.
And regardless of bookplates and bookmarks, I'll certainly be buying the sequel to Silver Phoenix as soon as it's been released.