I almost gave up on this book in the first chapter when I realized that there was no real steampunk element to this novel. Although the cover screams steampunk, the setting is modern day. The only difference is that modern-day inventions (cell phones, computers, etc.) are sometimes given odd and confusing names (and then again, sometimes not). So when I realized that this wasn't steampunk, I felt cheated. I'd wanted Soulless, but I'd gotten the Hallows.
Luckily, I read on. Although the pseudo-steampunk setting continued to annoy me up until the very last chapter, everything else was terrific. This book is an urban fantasy murder mystery with a very clever plot. It was well-written and kept me turning pages to the very end. I did kind of guess the end of the book, but still enjoyed the buildup to the final chapter.
Xandra, the heroine, is someone to reckon with. She's tough but never annoying, and the man in her life is a genuine character and not a cardboard one. At times, the dialogue got a bit silly (can a British novel be *too* British?), but for the most part, the characters and the plot fell together well. The addition of the aristocracy put another spin on what might have been a tired, old theme.
I'll say it again, though. I just *hated* the way the book tried to be something it wasn't when it comes to steampunk. True, the story involves Queen Victoria (who is a vampire herself and still sits on the throne in the twenty-first century), but it seemed completely unnecessary to fall back on silly names for modern devices. Not only that, I was sick to death of the heroine and her long evening gowns, corsets, and the men in their cravats.
Other than that, this was a terrific book, and I look forward to reading about Xandra's next adventure.