This book started out far slower and tonally bleaker than I had anticipated, and it turns out that's okay. With 450+ pages to play with, and a heist plot, I should have known this one was going to be a slower build than many teen books. While it does take the story a while to wind up, introducing you to the world and each character, it eventually gathers enough steam to power forward at high speeds until its cliffhanger ending.
This was one of those books where the deeper I got into it the more I enjoyed it. The characters, many of which are intentionally dislikable at the beginning, slowly but surely grew on me. By the end I was invested in most of them, anxious for them to reach their goals. I also became interested and invested in the romantic entanglements - while a few started out making me roll my eyes, they had me all swoony by the end.
Then there is the matter of the heist. I'm a sucker for heist movies/books, and most stories in the genre start out slow and show you all the players and the pieces before leaping into the actual heist. This was the same, which worked to the book's advantage because once the heist began I was hooked (for all the reasons above and more). The stakes were high, the setting and action interesting, and the plans clever - everything you really want from such a story.
All in all I'm excited to try the next book in the series, and I may just go back and read Bardugo's first Grisha trilogy just to spend a little more time in this world. If you like scoundrels, derring-do, heists, and a dash of romance and magic, do yourself a favor and try this one out.