3 leaning on 3.5; 4 if I'm feeling pleased.
This is my first novel by Ms. Author, so I haven't had the pleasure of reading her previous books that I've learned also feature Venice. Ever since I've read The Thief Lord, I've wanted more stories in a Venetian setting, so when I saw the Fate in the Box in a book sale, I purchased it straight away.
It was... good. Adequate? I was surprised by the amount of magical beings in it, and while I may love my fantastic beasts, it felt like the story turned into a pot luck of fantasy creatures and ideas. The mermaids
were a pleasant surprise, because, after all, it is a river city.
The bad guy was adequately bad, the retribution was satisfactorily laid out, and there is some character development notable in the story. I wish I would have seen more of Tockle, the only male protagonist, though; he kind of got shoved in the background by Amneris, Biri, and Latenia (who wasn't even that much of a major character?). He also kind of... cried too much in my opinion.
And while I was hanging on for a great Venetian story, I found myself slightly disappointed, probably because I've compared it to The Thief Lord. In The Fate in the Box, all I got were names, names, names, names of places, names of houses, Italian terms... I understand it's a fantasy story, but it's set in Venice for pancake's sake. A little description of the city here and there would not have been amiss. There are some notes at the end by Ms. Author where she had written down the places in Venice that inspired her for a few settings in the book, but I didn't have time to Google them one by one to help me imagine the main characters' dwellings (aside from the fact that this info came at the end of the story).
Squicks aside, I quite enjoyed it. I felt like the characters were really fleshed out and the story proved most entertaining.