This book is a bit of a peculiar acquaintance. It is written in a style that is distinctly Victorian, and I would not have been surprised if it was originally published in 1897 based only on how it is written.
It is written in a style that is reminiscent of both Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, and to some extent H.P. Lovecraft's tales. We get a protagonist that tells the story himself after everything is over. Not as a diary, but as if he himself was writing this story of what happened.
And I found this helped a great deal to set the mood, and transport me to the time when the story is set.
There is absolutely no doubt that this is a steampunk story, the whole story revolves around clockwork creations. But Jeter has not limited himself to just this aspect, there is also a distinctly Lovecraftian(-ish) element here. Both elements are handled very well, and they compliment each other rather than taking attention away from each other.
Jeter is great at getting the reader going. The narrator's hints at things that for him has happened, but is still to come for the reader, makes you want to read on to find out what has happened. And there are several mysteries introduced early on, and there are more to come.
The story takes several twists and turns I did not see coming, and you will never quite know which characters will turn out to be friend or foe.
When there is action, and there is quite a bit of it, it is handled very well. The first person narration puts you in the middle of what is happening and at times this takes you on quite a ride.
The only problem I had with the book was the ending. It felt a bit rushed, and although it was pretty fulfilling, I felt it lacked a bit compared to the rest of the novel. But that being said, it is by no means so weak as to make the novel anything less than highly enjoyable.
If you are the least bit interested in steampunk this is certainly a must-read novel. And it is Victorian enough that it should be in the collection of everyone who likes science fiction from that period.
This review was originally published on my blog http://weirdmage.blogspot.com