Alternate history books are some of my favorite things! It's the "what if" aspect that interests me. In Mechanicals, the "what if" is "what if someone invented giant killer Gundams and used them in the Crimean war (and also there's a secret society of paranormal investigators fiddling with things)?" Paranormal steampunk just so happens to be ANOTHER of my favorite things, and so basically there was no way I wasn't downloading this book when it was freebied last month.What do I know about the Crimean war? Nothing, really, except that England and Russia were involved and that it's one of the main thingies in [b:The Eyre Affair|27003|The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1)|Jasper Fforde|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309201183s/27003.jpg|3436605]. I don't think not knowing about the war hurt me any, but like all alt. histories books I'd probably have been better off if I could identify major changes. I can't remember if the cause of this version of the Crimean was ever really explained, either, which probably isn't good. There was some confusing stuff at the end with Rasputin that I didn't quite understand, and which I think confused the whole book's plot for me. Up until he showed up, I THOUGHT I knew what was going on, and then suddenly I didn't. Maybe I just got the various plotlines tangled up-- I'm not sure.There are three different plotlines in Mechanicals, which works well enough until it turns in four and then it's just a little too much. --> Read the rest of my review at my blog (goes live Jan. 28, 2013)!