The characters are excellent - there really are nuances that many authors don't manage to catch. It's truly rare for someone to be *all* good or *all* evil. Everyone has the capacity to be EITHER, depending on their choices - and Wexler captures that very well here. Particularly as this is his first YA book, he very clearly is not talking down to the reader, and that is fabulous. Also - very LGBTQ friendly, which as a bookseller, is excellent. I love having another title in my arsenal for those who request it.
The story is unique - after finishing it, my brain is still pondering some of the things I read about. Yes, there's magic of a sort, but the different wells, and THE SHIP OMG THE SHIP. Absolutely fascinating, this floating world where weird things happen and no one understands. No spoilers, the ship plays such a large part that it's pretty much a character in its own right.
Which brings me to the setting - again, this ghost ship, this giant floating world that no one knows anything about but that collects "tributes" at different ports, mostly those with some form of the well magic. This ship that somehow becomes a city in its own right, but with an element of thunderdome. Wexler's descriptions are so well done that I had little trouble picturing the levels, the creatures, or the humans that somehow all occupy this space.
Overall, I really enjoyed this title, and I'm quite looking forward to book two - because I HAVE QUESTIONS. The story does have an ending, so there aren't any major cliffhangers, but...there is still much more to the story that hasn't been revealed yet. I can't wait until the magician pulls back his curtain to reveal what happens next. #ShipofSmokeandSteel