The good parts: this book paints with vivid imagery a unique and memorable alternate history; Priest's vision of an alternate Seattle stayed with me. I liked that it was steampunk set in America; most others do tend to be European. The characters were somewhat complex; their very irrationalities were what made them believable humans for me (I don't know about you, but I have witnessed humans making some remarkably crazy and destructive decisions, contrary to common sense and available knowledge). And though it took awhile to take off, the suspense was pretty intense at times.
The bad parts: the writing was very choppy and uneven; this made it extremely difficult to get through the book. The very exercise of reading was arduous, and it put me off, causing me to take a long time to finish. Some parts of the book I was able to flow through, but others it was like I'd hit a wall. The plot takes a long time to get started, or so it seems. I felt like the editing could have been stronger. Again, what I take away from the book is a striking sense of setting - the hazy streets, the rotters just around the corner, and a world darkened by chaotic forces. I just wish the plot and characterizations had been as deeply affecting.
***Upon further reflection, I think I'm going to go with a solid 3 stars.