So reading the first half of this book is like viewing the world through a tunnel. Places, people, actions and motivation are all described in intense detail, but never do we stand back far enough to know where we are, where we are going, or why. The result is a mosaic of strong sights, feelings, and actions with no connection to each other. When you come to the surface of meaning, it could be the present, or a flashback, or both happening at once.
In reading on, we must assume that at some point this gestalt is all going to come into focus and the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.
Finally, about halfway through the book, the author stops playing word games and lets the story take over. From that point on the action increases in speed and clarity, the characters develop and the conflicts twist and intersect in a satisfying dance.
Another point of stylistic interest is the variety in tone, depending on the characters. Inspector Rein and his assistant maintain a droll half-serious humour typical of Steampunk. The elves and fey are more Epic Fantasy in style. When these characters intersect, the author opts for a grittier realism. One complaint; since the concept of “melody” is important to the story, I wish the poetry paid more attention to melodious rhythms. It tends to be a bit prosaic and choppy.
All of this combines to create a fascinating universe for the captivating characters and the threads of plotline that wander through it.
An entertaining read if you don’t mind wading through the frills.