This is one of the weirdest books I've read in a very long time. I don't even know how to describe the weirdness correctly.
Imagine London in the first half of the Nineteenth Century. Now take away everything you know about that. Add to that a lot of steam engines, a complete class of people to man them, a vampire George III and what possibly is the weirdest religion system I've come across with. The Church of England has been replaced with the Gods of the Industrialisation. And then there are several churches based on different ideas. These churches have their Messiahs (like the best engineer in that class) and they are quite competitive. O, and did I mention it has dragons as well? (Although they're not quite given a large enough part of the book).
All of this together was quite the culture shock as I kind of expected Victorian England.
It took me some time to get into the story, as all the ideas where so weird, and although I recognized names from famous engineers from that era, like Stephenson and Brunel it was weird for me to see them as the main characters in this story, that has such a different reality going on.
After reading half of the story I started feeling a little less lost and enjoyed the story more. There were plot points that still don't make sense to me. It also feels like there are multiple massive plot lines that are all mixed up in one book by accident. The dragon-problem, the Luddite-problem and the robots, the whole The Passage-like vampire-problem. It felt like these problems could've better been dealt with in different books as this book was confusing.
And so, I feel conflicted about this book. For one, it's definitely an original story, the alternate steam-punk history is for once really alternate. (Perhaps even a bit too much so). All the things that were thought of really show there must have been a lot of work in making it. On the other hand, not every major plot twist made sense, and so much different stories were going on it was hard to keep track and try to understand anything from the world in this book. It was kind of messy.
However, it was, in its own way fascinating, so I might just give the second book a try when it's going to be published.
The Sunken is the first book in the Engine Ward Series. The second book has yet to be announced.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!