My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I actually decided to buy this book on the strength of the cover. It’s got such a gorgeously designed cover that it just seemed to stand out from all the others on the shelf. Thankfully, I loved the story as much as I did the cover! 😀 It follows the life of Thaniel, a man who works as a telegraphist in London in the 1880’s. He meets a mysterious Japanese man, who is more than he first appears. Their paths soon intertwine and cross with a lady called Grace and her friend Matsumoto.
There’s a little bit of everything in here – fantasy, magical realism, steampunk sort of shenanigans, romance, even a little gay romance in there. It is, obviously, an alternate reality/alternate history, too. I love all those types of genres, but to have them all combined in one book is a bit of a treat. It is a bit of a slow-burner, admittedly, but that’s not really a problem for me. I do usually like slow-burners, if they’re done right. This one worked for me. I loved all the characters. Mori and Thaniel were absolute sweethearts, and Grace was an empowered woman who ‘don’t need to no man’ to rule her life. I thought it was great to see that Thaniel’s a Lincolnshire guy. I think this is the first book I’ve read that’s actually mentioned Lincolnshire (and Lincoln by proxy), other than Dambusters (but I don’t think I should count that, as Dambusters wasn’t really a novel.) Why I’m so happy to see Lincolnshire getting a mention, is because I actually live there myself! (I wasn’t born in Lincolnshire, though – I’m from near London originally.)
I think that this book is going to get quite a few re-reads, both because I enjoyed it, and because I think this might be one of those books where you keep discovering new things about the plot every time. Very good.