(I got an ARC through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)
Interesting ideas, blending 19th-century industrial Britain with religious sects based on trades. It gave the world a slightly dystopian flavour, casting skewed shadows on its inhabitants' motives and on the way things were run. Historical events were loosely respected and used (such as the king's madness, or Brunel's engines and railroads), but in a way that seemed believable enough to me. Same with historical personae: sure, some of them died before 1830 (the year the story's set in), but I didn't exactly care. I found it nice to see them play roles both similar and slightly different.
I remain torn regarding Holman's narrative, though: good, because it played on other senses than sight; strange, because it was the only first person point of view, and while it somehow fits with what was left by the real Holman in our world, it was also surprising. (I most often tend to feel like that when such switches occur in novels: why the need to insert such a POV in the story, what is it meant to achieve, etc.) Not uninteresting, just... questionable in places.
The story as a whole didn't grip me as much as I thought it would. The right ingredients are here, only not always used in a way that would keep my attention span steady (for instance, some things are repeated throughout the novel, whereas others are left as mere details that demanded to be fleshed out). The society described in this book is intriguing, however at times the reader has to piece bits together just a little too much for comfort. Nothing terrible, just sometimes tiring after a while. (On the other hand, I doubt I would have appreciated page after page of explanations, so I'm not going to whine too much about this.)
Not my love-love book of the year, however I may still decide to check the next book once it's out.