To be perfectly frank it took me a long time to get through this book. The concept had me highly motivated to read it as soon as it arrived in my hands, but the beginning slowly ate away at that excitement till I put it down after about four chapters and moved onto a new book. The writing is okay--I haven't read Harper before, but I have read quite a bit of steampunk over the last few years. Harper definitely combines the two worlds in a believable way, but spends so much time trying to immerse the reader in it that the info-dumping becomes really tedious really quickly.
It wouldn't be quite right to call this steampunk with traditional zombies either. The 'Clockwork Plague' victims that becomes zombies don't feast on the flesh of humans and except for the machinations of the villain don't attack humans either it would seem. They're just kind of there. The steampunk aspects are solid and inventive--plenty of cool and nifty gadgets running around (some of the Clockwork Plague victims become genius inventors until they burn themselves out and go crazy), but as I said earlier Harper spends a lot of time info-dumping to make the gadgets seem cool. More often than not we are told how cool the gadgets are and when presented with the reality in action, it's taken care of quickly and as dryly as possible.
The romance subplot was also dry. Alice is torn between wanting to do right by her family and her obligations as a daughter and wanting to do just about anything else in her life. As a consequence her romance with Gavin is put on the back burner. Not that Gavin is any better, he detests London and is only there because of his nominal interest in Alice (or so it seems). Their lack of clear communication on their wants is a real sticking point throughout the novel.
More than anything else however the novel drags on. The moments of excitement are ruined by over simplification or too much information or over much too quickly to gain much momentum. In the end this was just unsatisfying and not very enjoyable to top it off.
In a clockwork Brittania, Alice's prospects are slim. At 21, her age and her unladylike interest in automatons have sealed her fate as an undesirable marriage prospect. But a devastating plague sends Alice off in a direction beyond the pale-towards a clandestine organization, mad inventors, life-altering secrets, and into the arms of an intrepid fiddle-playing airship pilot.