This was a really interesting alternate history novella that blends steampunk technology with orisha deities, set against a backdrop of post-Civil War New Orleans.
I could easily have spent a whole novella just learning about the politics of this world! Within this alternate New Orleans, the author explores the North and South and how the war ended (or did it?), the abolition of slavery, continued human trafficking, white supremacy, French colonialism in the Caribbean, and more.
And physically speaking, I would've been happy to spend an entire novella just traipsing around this version of New Orleans. The looming city walls, the airships and smuggler crews, the uncomfortable but cordial peace between rival groups, the impending Mardi Gras, and the kickass nuns? I love it all!
I don’t know much about the orisha, but I really liked the role Oya and Oshun played in the story. I’ve read many a story with an omnipresent god, but there was something about Oya and Oshun’s omnipresence here that was unique.
And I really enjoyed how the author blended the orisha with technology, creating tech that ties back to the god Shango. I wish the author had explained the tech behind it further, however they deliberately and artistically avoid doing so owing to the protagonist’s lack of education and comprehension.
Admittedly the writing style is difficult to get used to, owing to how it’s narrated in the protagonist’s accent and slang. It's not impossible but it took me a little while and some conscious effort to get there.
Writing style aside, the reason this was knocked down to 4 stars is that the climax breezed by too quickly. I loved the storyline and how it blends tech with the gods, but I’m pretty sure Oya herself would be pissed at how quickly it all blew over (pun very much intended). I wish we’d had an extra 20-50 pages to further flesh out the evil scheme and the major conflict scene!