This book has been getting a lot of buzz, so I went into it with fairly high expectations. It mostly delivered on those expectations. I liked it a lot.
Imperial Russia is one of my personal favorite settings, I love alternative history, and I love stories with magic. I devoured this nearly 400 page book in about three hours - I didn't want to stop reading - moving from shady spot to shady spot around my yard. It was the perfect book for a heat wave, with lots of snow and ice and other enchantment.
The downside, because there is always a downside, is the fact that the author couldn't stop herself from including a damned love triangle, or as I like to call it, a DLT. YA authors can't seem to resist the urge to do this, it almost universally irritates the crap out of me, and this was one of those times. The ending was a bit of a bummer, but it made sense with the story, and wasn't a cop out. That's all I'll say about that.
This is the start of a series, and I liked enough that I'll go on with the series.
I considered counting this book for the historical fiction slot, but decided to go with "new to me author," since I'm not sure about "alt history" being legit historical fiction.