I read this author's other series and finally decided to read this book.
Yes, there are a lot of characters: there is a character guide at the beginning of the book.
Yes, she gives lengthy character discriptions, it verges on accessible literature. I enjoyed the characterization very much.
Set in a small town, in the rural South, during the Great Depression, it reminded me very much of "To Kill a Mockingbird." Not that there's an Attiticus or protagonists that are children, but the same vibe and small town ways and observations. Also, as is true with much of the South, everyone has a story, is a character, and has quirks.
This book is great and I'm sorry that everyone hasn't enjoyed it as much as I did.