It's always an unexpected pleasure to discover a new author this good.
Davidson starts this tale with a shocking scene, and keeps the energy going all the way through to the end. As I said in my review of the author's short story, 'Nighttime in Caeli-Amur,' Davidson excels at creating characters who roundly deserve to be condemned for their actions - but still capture the reader's empathy, if not sympathy.
Their home, Caeli-Amur, feels like a real place. It's vivid, teeming with dreams, ambition, love and tragedy - and the bitter, grotesque things that all of those can twist lives into.
This is a story of a city on the brink...of a fall, or of revolution. Corrupt officials war with seditionist saboteurs. Here we meet Kata, former street orphan, trained philosopher-assassin (ninja) - a woman who's learned to always have an eye for the main chance. But will her self-interest be her downfall? We also have Maximilian, an idealist and revolutionary whose dreams of studying the dangerous arts of thaumaturgy may not be compatible with the violent revolution some of his compatriots aim for. Then there's Boris, former tramworker, on his way up the bureaucratic ladder to success... but will he be willing to trample over the bodies of his old friends on his way up?
And more... much, much more. This is a complex work exploring multiple layers of power and motivations. I'd say: China Mieville meets Tanith Lee - injected with a full syringe of originality. Recommended for fans of steampunk who are tired of the cliches. Davidson's an author I'll be following from here on out.
Advance review copy provided by NetGalley. Thanks to Netgalley and Tor Books. As always, my opinion is my own.