The word for Lisa Shearin's new fantasy series is "delightful."
Raine Benares' characterization presents a magical world through the eyes of a down-to-earth, capable woman. The passing way in which she remarks, "Oh, by the way ... I've got an amulet that links me to a stone known as the 'Soul Thief' and want it gone" is a typical example of the tongue-in-cheek tone of Shearin's writing--a tone that suits this story.
The way the action progresses, it is hard to imagine that so much can happen in so short a time (a couple of days). I am used to epic fantasy stories that take months, years, generations to complete. Neither approach is necessarily bad; they are just different, and each has its advantages. Shearin handles her pacing well. She packs quite a bit of action into the book, but somehow manages to squeeze enough exposition in there so as to inform us about numerous aspects of her magical world without completely drowning us in an infodump. As someone who also enjoys continent (or world) spanning adventures (cough Mr. Raymond E. Feist anyone? cough)
Fantasy is as susceptible as any genre to its clichés, and magical stones of power are one of those. However, Lisa Shearin cleverly doesn't tackle this particular stone head-on. Instead, she uses it to give us plenty of time with her main character, who is a delightful, spunky heroine. In that respect, I would think that women can fully appreciate Raine and enjoy her, more so than many books dominated by heavily masculine heroes. That said, I'm male and enjoyed it thoroughly.
The only criticism I could offer is that parts of it seemed rushed or forced. The ending comes very fast after what seems like a very long time, and there are certain scenes where I remember going, "Hmm ... is this really necessary? Couldn't this have been cut?" There are a couple of times where there is a large build-up to danger and tension, only for it to dissipate (such as just after the climax of the book, during the last flight from The Ruins). It doesn't ruin the book, but it makes me feel fidgety while I'm reading it.
That's the great thing about books though. If you get fidgety, you can just put it down, go do something, and come back later.