Okay, so I'm going to be easy like Sunday morning and just say, I really dug Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom starter, Mister Monday. I'm not saying it's my favorite book ever, but I definitely enjoyed the atmosphere, which I think compares to a bit of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere smooshed together with Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci books i.e. stark children's adventures with a no-holds-barred take on a young hero's lack of limitations.
Nix excels at creating a completely credible kid hero, Arthur Penhaligon. Arthur is a normal kid, not some super-powered, hyped-up X-boy. His power comes from the strength of his heart and his will. He has no ego to speak of, but is also not a whiny baby. He's comfortably aware of his limitations, but he's also aware of his loved ones and those who loves, and for them he's willing to believe and attempt anything, including wrest control of a creation dimension from its erstwhile caretakers.
With an unofficial, way-before-its-peak form of Steampunk, Nix has blended ephemeral magic with shiny, creepy and/or glorious mech, and a fantastic set of primary and secondary characters.
I'm looking forward to the next book, Grim Tuesday, and if I hadn't borrowed Mister Monday from the library in the first place, I'd have BOUGHT it. Knowing how much I like the first book, I might have to go pick up both of them.