This is the problem with series. You get hooked on the characters and then you have to wait.
This one was all about the characters and atmosphere for me – it all felt very real and tangible, despite all the fantasy elements. There’s some suspense, and the romance elements felt relatively subdued, and there’s a bit of Welsh mythology thrown in, with a pleasantly Susan Cooper-ish feel to it. Also, I love Stiefvater’s sense of humor – the descriptions of the raven, for example, regularly cracked me up. But she slips the humor in without calling too much attention to it. I gobbled it up.
The only downside – the only thing that made it frustrating – is that lack of resolution that seems to come with series openers these days.
There’s some violence and swearing, and I don’t know where the rest of the series will go, but I’d hand this to sophisticated middle school readers and up (hey, if they start now they’ll grow into it).