Heart of Iron, by Ekaterina Sedia.
I should preface this by saying I’m only thirty pages along, with nearly three hundred to go; at the same time I’ve so far been impressed.
Beautiful, beautiful writing and turn of phrase. It’s set in an alternate history steampunk setting, and the world building is impressive. More than that, though, there is a subtle delicacy to Sedia’s representation of politics and society that really hits home. She could still disappoint me later, but I’m hopeful.
… Why are the writers with the best prose so often also the writers with the worst plot? Pacing, Ms. Sedia, pacing! And stop making all your minor characters secretly bright intellectuals, pretty please?