I started reading this months ago, and am just now getting back into it. Honestly, I really have no clue whether I like or don't like this book so far, but here are a couple of thoughts:
- I hate the Mage. Not just because he's an awful character so far, but because I think that he's meant to be this book's version of Dumbledore, and Dumbledore would NEVER have acted towards Harry in the way that the Mage acts towards Simon. Never ever. His behaviour seems directly lifted from the fanfiction trope "manipulative!Dumbledore", according to which Dumbledore is basically an evil bastard, who only uses Harry for his own purposes in the fight against Voldemort. (And I hate that so much - I love Dumbledore. He's one of my favourite characters, and even though he can be manipulaitve for sure, I do believe that he genuinely cared for Harry's well-being. And this Mage guy doesn't care for Simon's well-being at all. He's power-crazed and vain - two things that Dumbledore definitely never was.)
- Simon is a really annoying character. He's so, so whiny and irritating to me.I really don't know why Penny cares for him - or Agatha. (Agatha is damn annoying too, by the way.) I think the issue is that the book starts right in the middle of a very difficult time for Simon - he's (presumably) just survived a confrontation with the book's main villain, there's trouble with his girlfriend, his idol (the Mage) is trying to get rid of him by sending him away ... obviously he's not going to be all sunshine and happiness. But still - as a reader, I haven't seen him do any admirable stuff or anything which would make me like or sympathise with him. So at this point I'm basically just annoyed by all the whining and sighing that's going on.
- ... Which sort of ties into my next point: I'm on page 128, and the action still hasn't really set in. I really wish that something would happen already, other than Simon wandering about the castle and whining about where Baz has disappeared off to and whether the Insidious Humdrum (or whatever the main villain is called) will attack or not.
- Penny is great. Period. (Actually, I'd love it if she was the main character. I'm much more interested in her than in Simon ...) She's witty and funny, lovely and smart - I'd really love to get to know more about her background. Fingers crossed she'll feature more and more in the course of the novel (more than Agatha in any case ...).