I feel like apologizing for the low rating. There was some a lot of good stuff in here, and I see what the author intended to convey, but no, sorry.
- Protagonist was independent and active, and despite being very much disadvantaged in her quest never simply allowed events to carry her along. She was not helpless, despite running into a number of situations where she needed to be rescued.
- I admit I am fond of tomboy heroines who don't mind getting dirty.
- Surprises! After the midpoint I was genuinely surprised by turns of events.
- The secret uncovered is genuinely gross and engrossing.
- The final battle/struggle sequence was genuinely thrilling.
- Certain kinds of animal deaths make me tear up no matter how cliched, drippy or gratuitous they're written.
- The helpful POC mentor (SPOILER SPOILERVERB SPOILER)!
Not so good stuff:
- The helpful POC mentor almost (SPOILER).
- This is the main bad point, really: The writing was... so... bad. I am sorry S.R. Johannes, if you're reading this. So. Bad. The dialogue did not flow, the romance was pasted on, emotions described in too much detail - less is better! - and some cliches I can't stand popped up. ("I felt beautiful for the first time. Like a woman." GET OUT.)
- Casual cissexism and ableism but then again that's all over our media like a stinky mold so it's nothing that unexpected. I can't remember if there was casual homophobia but probably.
- That is just how Americans think English people speak.
- The heroine, though intrepid, still had to be rescued a lot, and kept doing stupid things because EMOTIONS. Well, she was a teenager, but.
- I got the feeling the mysterious handsome English lad was supposed to be 20ish, but was turned 17 to avoid making him seem creepy for romancing the 16-year-old heroine.
- Exotic Indians!
So, I cannot recommend it, but I hope the author keeps writing, nonetheless! After a few helpful hints, perhaps.