(I got a copy courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
Again, an easy and fast read, much like the previous installment, but had not I already gotten a copy through NG, as mentioned above, I doubt I would've read it.
Some parts of the book were still pleasant. I still liked the idea behind the magic, and the more prominent use this time of Gaffers and their powers—seriously, working with mirrors, travelling through them, using them to spy on or find people? That's awesome! It would have remained awesome if the rules of magic in that world hadn't been
Ceony this time just plunged deep into Too Stupid To Live territory, taking actions that a character as smart as she's supposed to be would have immediately thought twice about. So, sure, she came prepared... but clearly not enough. And she definitely did not think through all her moves and what they may imply for other people. Not wanting to endanger more people is a very fine motive, only not when it ends up achieving exactly that.
As in the first volume, some historical elements were too out of place: she's supposed to be of a struggling, working class-like background, but her father would take her to fire a gun when she was younger? This doesn't scream "poor family background" to me, not in London at the end of 19th century. Other jarring elements included Ceony's take on skirts and other views of women as creatures made to cook and take care of men:
"Langston didn’t seem to notice—he thought the tomatoes alone were a treat, and Ceony determined the man needed to get married right away. She wondered if Delilah could be coerced into dating him."
This might have worked for another character. Not for a young woman who's shown to act in daring ways, affirms her right to stay with her current master even though some may disapprove, wants to decide her own fate, and so on. Which is one of the problems I had with the romance in the first book: centered around the man, who was everything.
Speaking of the romance: still not convinced, all the more because of that weird chapter from Thane's point of view, thrown among all the others narrated in Ceony's, in which he thinks about his feelings for her. Less cooking this time; more fussing over things that seemed to spring out of nowhere (the allergy, for instance). Also, more blushing.
As for the villains, I found them paper-thin (pun totally intended). Grath and his fellow magicians would have been impressive in other circumstances, and their powers and cunning should have been put to better use. Instead, I never got to really understand their motives. Freeing Lira? All right, but what about a bigger plan, why have they been such targets for years (except for Excision, of course)? And Saraj.
Decidedly, this isn't working for me. (Nor is the cover, which is nice, but doesn't look like anything that was in the book.)