An alt-history tale of Venice, where the city is under attack from a hidden, magical enemy and only an adopted girl, Teodora - with the help of a lot of mermaids, a prophecy and a boy - can hope to win the day.The first thing which will hit the reader in this book is the style. It's extremely ornate - a deliberately antique style. There's also the tendency to jump a few days ahead and then backtrack and tell what's gone on in the past few days, rather than just experiencing those days.The set-up itself is extremely fascinating. Orphan girl, magic book, horrible events witnessed, loving portrait of Venice, mermaids who speak in sailor cant, arrogant boy, a large amount of death. Even though the style wasn't a great fit for me, tending to slow down the pace and undercut the drama, the plot and world should have been candy to keep me coming back for me.The problem with me was the characters. Many of the characters were outlines without a spark which made them people. Teo's parents, for instance, are scientists and skeptics and over-protective and never for a moment felt like people instead of plot roles. The set-up between Teo (book-loving, non-fashionable, special) and Maria (vain, fashion-seeking, flirtatious [at 11!], foolish) was your basic protagonist v redeemable cheerleader over-the-top comparison. Not only did Maria feel primarily like a mass of negative traits designed to make Teo look good, but her fall and redemption was highly predictable.But the biggest problem for me was Teo herself, who was endowed with much specialness - photographic memory, two mysterious powers, child of prophecy, pretty without needing fashion - while never managing to make me _like_ her. I was sorry for her situation, which was scary and hard at times, but she went on about Maria's stupidity a few too many times to earn much more than sympathy from me.I'd recommend readers check out a sample of this book to see how the style sits - old-fashioned, ornate styles can be interesting of themselves - and if you have a particular interest in Venice then you may want to check out this book just for the Venice-info.