The Sunken is a fascinating read set in an Alternate Universe during the time of King George III. There are a few main characters - Nicholas Rose/Nicholas Thorne, a brilliant architect that's also running from something. Aaron, a Stoker and friend of Isambard Brunel. Isambard Brunel is a talented and ambitious engineer. And lastly, there's James Holman, a blind man who wishes to explore the world. There's also Brigitte, but her role is more of "love interest", and she only provides some information in the early parts of the book.
Now that I've introduced the characters in one sentence summaries that do no justice to their complexity (not to mention how their relationships develop), let me introduce the setting and plot. King George is a vampire, English people worship a pantheon of "Industrial Gods". As a result of the "Industrial Gods", England is cut off from the rest of Europe, which is supposed to be Christian. The book starts off with Nicholas, Isambard and James as boys, when a horrible accident happens and someone dies. Nicholas and James feel horror and guilt, while Isambard just marvels at the beauty of the machines. Fast forward a few years, and Nicholas smuggles himself back to England, where he becomes Isambard's architect. However, as Isambard wins royal favour, it's clear that something sinister is happening, and all the main characters react differently.
While the book is supposed to be about the approaching menace of The Sunken (it's in the title, it's not a spoiler, right?), I can't help but think that the real main character of the story is Isambard. While the story is told from multiple POVs (including a few from those of Joseph Banks, the physician to King George), Isambard's POV is noticeably absent. Why? I think it's because he's complex, and most people view him in a different light. There are many differing accounts about the type of person he is, and the contractions aren't resolved at the end of the book - in fact, they become even more divergent. Trying to make up my mind about him was almost more interesting than the plot (which was pretty interesting on its own).
All in all, this is a fascinating steampunk/alternate history/AU book. The plot is interesting, and the multiple voices are distinctive and help the reader to piece the bigger picture together. I see it's the first of a series, and I definitely look forward to seeing what the author does in the next book.
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book to review as part of the Enchanted Books Blog Tour. The opinions in my review are my honest opinions.