This Neo-Victorian tale is structurally superior to Book 1, which kind of felt like two entirely different books stuck together, but it was still ultimately a little disappointing. I liked the "creepy underground factory" and Simon being held captive and brainwashed (with weird S&M undertones...), but there were a few issues carried over from earlier (e.g., the young characters' ages being ambiguous, making it difficult to gauge their emotional verisimilitude) and the last few chapters are rather abrupt and underdeveloped, as if author DeLuca just got tired of writing or something.
This is arguably more of a "problem with advertizing" than a problem with the book in itself, but I still fail to see anything steampunk or even particularly fantastical here, beyond one simple plot point of travel between England and the (fictional) tropical island of Lampala being made quick and easy by a strange metal device. That's actually a really great premise for post-colonial speculative fiction, so congrats to DeLuca for that! I wish that these books had done more with that premise.
(reviewed 11 months after purchase)