I bought this book just 'cause of the pretty cover art. I wasn't familiar with the author at all.
About half way through the book, I ordered the two sequels, and just today I bought another book from the author. So - she's won me over!
This is very enjoyable epic fantasy. I very much liked the semi-Russian feel to the culture, and the interplay/conflict between magic and technology/science. Yes, the characterizations and politics are a bit simplistic - but I thought it worked, in the context of a fable.
I enjoyed both the two main plot threads - first, the story of Gavril - a young artist whose mother has shielded him from knowledge of his father's heritage: possession by a dragon-like spirit which gives great power, but only at the cost of ones humanity. Second - the story of Kiukiu, a girl who, similarly has had her heritage hidden. Her father was a magician who, through music, could cross the boundaries of life and death, and she also has unknowingly inherited powers.
Recommended for fans of Robin Hobb, Carol Berg, etc.