I normally eat up this type of world; set in a Victorian England with lots of steampunk toys and plenty of supernaturals. But, it just didn't hold my attention. Very disappointing.
Unfortunately, Saintcrow's attempt to describe Bannon and Clare's surroundings, the mystery they were trying to solve, and the undertones of the character's relationships were all a jumbled mess. It didn't come together like many other Saintcrow books I have read. My reading comprehension skills are just fine but I found it hard to make sense of the plot at certain points. I think the story needed to be restructured before it should have been published.
In terms of the storyline itself, I was equally disappointed. For every positive aspect of this book, there is a negative one. The most obvious example I can think of is Clare and Bannon. Archibald Clare is observant, pleasant, and candid. Clare's antithesis is definitely Emma Bannon. She came off as self-centered, haughty, and callous. I will openly admit that it has a lot to do with the social/class system. Nevertheless, it was disturbing. The Prime/Shield relationship seems to be set up to breed narcissists and lapdogs. I liked the 'mentaths,' but sorcery world's caste-like power system offended my American sensibilities.