Wow, I really enjoyed the first chapter. I love Toivo so far, which is weird since I usually like the morally ambiguous and plain old crazy characters better. Characters in his kind of position, a naturally happy person who’s surrounded by extreme sadness and negativity, tend to either submit to the negativity and become cynical or be overly peppy. Toivo is neither, which gives him a very attractive or magnetic personality. It’s too early to say whether I’ll like Demyan, although as I said I tend to like that kind of character and I like what we’ve seen of him so far. I’ll admit though, I rolled my eyes when I saw his name. Naming the demon-ish guy Demyan is a bit… heavy-handed.
I agree with sgl. The writing style is great. It’s engaging and flows really well, vivid without being excessively wordy.
The first chapter came out at a great time of year as well. With a lot of people suffering from glacial weather, I’m sure many readers (myself included) could relate to the descriptions of the bitter cold. I noticed this with Dead Endings as well, but it’s much more prominent here (for obvious reasons).