Deb and I were fresh meat together at Clarion South 2005, and you know, if no other good came from those six weeks at least I met her there.
Fortunately, a whole lotta good came from those six weeks, as she went on to write this...thing, this story, this...showcase of how freakin' vindictive she is. Which I mean in the nicest possible way, of course, but holy fuck. I haven't read a book with such relentless drive for ages. Matilde is ruler in waiting, but due to hostile intervention (that's such a polite way of saying it) has her home, position and family ripped out from beneath her, and must go about winning them back using wits alone. Deb has perfected the knack of writing her protagonist out of an impossible situation only by writing her into a different impossible situation, over and over. It's OARSUM.
Allen & Unwin are pushing it largely as straight fantasy, which I think is misleading. This is political, machiavellian, more than fantastic. And it's also fucking brilliant more than fantastic too. I got too caught up in reading rather than actually analysing and critting the MS, which is always a good sign. (Except for Deb, who had to put up with a lot of "OMG WTF NOOO!" in the margins.)
Book one is now available fore pre-order here, here, and here.