King neatly weaves together the lives of the city’s residents by tracing the paths of the artifacts passing between them: a propaganda pamphlet, a white scarf, an extracted tooth ... King’s style in this book regularly recalls those of the great cartographers of similar imaginary spaces, like Mervyn Peake and Gene Wolfe, though his aims are different. His prose is not as wonderfully ornate as theirs, but it has its own smooth lyricism and evocative imagery ... This novel is richly imagined, its surface pleasures deliberately subverted by the bleak suggestion at its core: that a successful organized attempt to reduce inequity will have to overcome not just the inertia of a nation’s politics, but human nature.
Sprawling, densely populated, intricately plotted, King's new novel is the kind of book that practically begs to be called Dickensian—and the rare one that mostly earns the moniker ... The book can seem overstuffed at times... but for the most part King carries it off successfully, with vivid prose, excellent minor characters, and a scrappy, every-which-way inventiveness. Best of all is the resistance he musters to sentimentality.