Well what's not to like? One big time travel conundrum, from present day America (well, 1983 as this is when the book was written) to the start of 19th century London, Egypt, and even back to 17th century London for a while! What's going on? Well, basically there are evil sorcerers trying to destroy the English establishment by means of body cloning, but they did not bank on the famous(!) poet William Ashbless being on hand to save the day!
There are themes here that Tim Powers goes on to cover in other books, such as Last Call, particularly ones of people "switching bodies". This means you need to pay close attention at times to make sure you remember who is actually who. This is typical of his books and means concentration is definitely required to fully keep track of what's going on. The main culprit for this act of body switching in this case is none other then Dog-Faced Joe, who has been terrorising London, leaving a trail of bloody bodies behind him, and alway eluding the authorities. He is just one of many great characters met along the way. There is also Horrabin the Clown, leader of a vicious clan of cut-throat beggars running the streets of London, who is also a freak only able to walk on stilts for fear of his contact with the earth depleting his magic skills learnt from the Doctor Romany, King of the Gypsies! Doctor Romany also happens to be the "ka" of the real Doctor Romanelli, sent to London to facilitate the plan from the Master back in Egypt, to get rid of King George! If this all sounds confusing, then the best thing to do is read the book. Don't just take my advice, all the other great reviews say it all really.