This my second try to read this, and I finished it! Yay! The first time I hit the colloquial narration and bounced off, but I braced myself for it this time, so was able to continue. As you can tell, the narration mostly didn't work for me, especially since it seemed to waver in and out, like Brad Pitt trying to do a German accent. The action scenes were also kind of muddy, and I often didn't know what was happening, though possibly by the end I mostly didn't care.
It's also possible that I... don't like steampunk? I'm not sure. I read a bit of it, and I really liked The Invisible Library
, partly because it was deliberately silly, but for the most part, I would like more explanation as to why things work. This is probably missing the point of the genre, but just throwing your hands up and saying, "CLOCKWORK!" isn't terribly satisfying to me. Bear clearly taking the genre and gleefully running with it's universe made 100% out of handwavium with no limits or rules.
I liked the characters, and I really liked that it was a western with a diverse cast that pulled in historical characters like Bass Reeves. Their interactions were fun, and the love story was ADORABLE. I'm not usually a fan of stories where the only women are sex workers, but Bear gave all of them goals and personalities of their own, so they stepped away from the Western clichés they could have been. Karen, our heroine, was great, and I enjoyed the time spent with her, I mostly just wish it had been in a different book.