I meant to review her Chinese ghost stories, which I liked even more (the other tales available on Amazon) although they're hazy in my mind now. Even if not always stunning, her work always satisfies--a mark of a true professional (not something all professionals do). Both story suites need to be packaged as novels.
I started the new book, The Golden City, and the first few pages seem to promise a book of manners, magic, and possibly class. I am intrigued so far....
Later, after another 40 pages, more intrigue, politics (although not overtly or annoyingly political), some manners. I am still enjoying it so far. A tiny yet necessary expository hiccup at beginning, but Cheney's sold me so far.
The 19th century flavors the descriptive style, which matches the early 20th century setting in Portugal: objects and people in relation to one another:
"A knock came at the door, and she jumped. She instinctively hid her bare hands in the fabric of the skirt. She was usually so careful, but she’d taken off the mitts that normally hid her fingers so she could help Isabel pack. Then she realized she was wrinkling the skirt terribly and forced herself to let it go. She took a calming breath, hoping her voice would sound normal. 'Who is it?' "
There's an artist's underwater city that feel like the kind of creepy weird and wild that Tim Powers might do. Count me in.
An excerpt is here, but you'll probably find it's the second chapter that will sell you.