As an introduction to James P. Blaylock‘s body of work, it will have you hooked and looking for more. I truly enjoyed how the suspense built a little at a time in the beginning, and before long we were rolling at a high level of action, concerned for main characters, and itching to thwart Narbondo at every opportunity. Here Blaylock does a masterful job of revealing Narbondo’s past bit by bit, along with his current scheme so that the reader is left guessing the details to the end. We get the nitty gritty of foggy London, along with a paranormal aspect, as Narbondo is carrying around his half-brother’s skull, which he has turned into a spirit prison. Throw in an airship, some mechanical toys, and a few high-tech (for the time) weapons, and you also have that steampunk feel without it being overused.
Honestly, this book works fine as a stand alone even though one can tell that both the main protagonist (St. Ives) and antagonist (Narbondo) have pasts, both with each other and as separate entities.