It took me a while to get into this one. Once I did, I was in, but not for the reasons I'd expected.
I love modern adaptations or rewrites of fairy tales. Love. I saw the title of this book and recognized it from the depths of my brain as a Scottish faerie myth. As a natural progression, I was kind of expecting faeries (or fairies, I'm not picky). When I got to page 300 and still, no fairies, I began to get concerned. Surely there would be fairies. The sci-fi/fantasy shelf of my local library (not to mention the inside flap of the book) wouldn't lie to me! Clearly, there were going to be fairies.
At page 400, I was frantically searching between the lines for any sci-fi/fantasy elements. Fairies? Ghosts? There might be a ghost? No? How about the reincarnated spirit of William Shakespeare? ... very literary vampires? Maybe?
I really liked the book, but I probably would have loved it if I'd gone in with different expectations. Since I know the bare bones of the tale of Tam Lin and the Faerie Queen, I saw the ending coming. What I did not expect was for it to happen so abruptly (by 420, we had fairies, but they weren't particularly satisfactory). Dean didn't do a great job integrating the myth into her story, and as a result, I was far more taken with the literary nature of the book than the fable. Her characters took on a life of their own, and they would have been far more interesting if she'd simply abandoned the supernatural ending, instead focusing on a bunch of emotionally-distant theater and Classics majors obsessed with their own world.