Oh boy is this book an experience. I mean that both in the best possible way, and in the way that warns you that this book is more interested in being a sensory experience and than anything action-heavy or plot driven. The writing in this book is luxurious - so luxurious, at times, that what is actually happening gets lost in whatever our current viewpoint character (and there are a lot of them) is currently feels or experiencing. There was more than one point where I had to go back to re-read a paragraph where I'd missed a single detail in a field of description, without which the next couple of paragraphs made absolutely zero sense. The richness of the worldbuilding that Shawl puts behind her brilliant premise (a steampunk country in Africa!) and the depth of her characters and cultures more than make up for those couple of times, though. Every time I picked up this book, I felt like I was sinking back into the hot, wet, hopeful, complicated world of Everfair. A little dreamlike, in places, but whole and complex in it's own right, mixing alternate history, science fiction and just a hint of magic together into a glorious tapestry.
I really loved this book's exploration of the rubbing points between disparate cultures and races forced into living together, and it's prominent inclusion of lesbian, bisexual, and disabled characters. Plus Zeppelins raids, jungle warfare, and African/European politics! This book has a lot to offer, and I highly recommend it. Don't expect to rush this book, though. Take your time, read every word, and enjoy it. It's not a page-turner; it's an experience.
4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.