It’s been awhile since I’ve read something, liked it for the first few chapters, but then chapter by chapter liked it less and less. This book is like that.
Johannes is not a pleasant or endearing character. His brother is, but he’s very much off-stage for long stretches of the action. And story-wise, the book is essentially a series of self-contained “bits” or set pieces that are wrapped up in the end with a few long final chapters suggesting just enough character growth to justify a happy ending.
None of which is necessarily a problem. Lord knows I like plenty of deeply risible claptrap. And this book is better than that.
It’s just that it’s a book that plays to a particular taste. You’re either going to eat up the constant winks, nods, puns and, most importantly, Johannes’s Victorian Gothic posturing or you are going to find them dropping like bricks, one by one and page after page, onto your last nerve.