This was my first Steampunk novel; immediately I'm wondering my neglect. Hawkins writing is good enough that I was unaware of reading, as the words flowed so effortlessly into the adventure. Some writers can make me feel I'm watching film, I felt that. Hawkins crafts a wonderful adventure out of her genre inspired distortion of 19th Century History.
We read about a fictitious battle for wealth, conducted by industry, traders and outright crooks. In particular we observe a battle for the trade in opium and other nefarious goods between all parties from the huge East India Company, down to the lowest of pirates. We are not though, as history would lead us to expect, at sea. We are in the skies above East Anglia, London, Cornwall and eventually Paris. Pirates in airships and other inventively interpreted steam age technologies add a magical layer to Victoriana. Imagine Montgolfier balloons with wooden pirate ships as baskets. Not an exactly new artistic invention, that's true, but newly drawn. With the trade in intoxicants, the presence of spies, prostitutes, crafty merchants and a generous supply of other maverick souls we follow the in the wake of the Dragon. Some of Hawkins characters almost walk out of the words, or at least they do for me.