I enjoyed this book especially as it was free. The story has an interesting background which opens itself to revisits to the world of Ether, hopefully to answer the sort of questions Mickey330 mentions as well as others such as where did the keys come from, was there an "original" discoverer of Ether?
It seems to me that the story just gives a "nod" to the steam punk genre and although it didn`t detract from the story for me I think the story would benefit from this facet of the book being expanded and developed.
I found there were still some basic questions unanswered such as, if the journey North and South is so difficult and there is no way of communicating between the two, how are edicts and rulings passed from the king in the North to the rest of the country? How do they stay in control?
How did the North manage to claim the country to the South?
As Karen mentions I did feel that the world of Ether was a little 2 dimensional, it lacks depth. The way the world is laid out with it`s all surrounding mountains and dangers, seems to be a just way of enabling concepts like the black fog and the swamp to be the limiting factors to travel that they are. Having said that the dangers that travellers face are very well conceived and interesting, I found the swamp to be particularly spooky.
All in all a very entertaining read, it would be a great shame if Kristine didn`t offer us a return to Ether where more flesh could be put on the already fairly fleshy bones of this interesting world.
(reviewed 23 days after purchase)