The Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey
Secrets and illusions abound in a decaying convent wrapped in dark magic and scented with blood. Portia came to the convent with the ghost of Imogen, the lover she failed to protect in life. Now, the spell casting caste wants to make sure that neither she nor her spirit ever leave.
Portia's ignorance of her own power may be even more deadly than those who conspire against her as she fights to fulfill her sworn duty to protect humankind in a battle against dark illusions and painful realities.
Words cannot express how excited I was when I heard about The Convent of the Pure for the first time. I was told that Sara M. Harvey had written a dark fantasy that featured Catholic mythology, Nephilim, badass lesbian heroes, and steampunk themes. Basically, one more author decided to write something just for me (shhhh, don't burst my bubble). I pre-ordered Convent from the Apex Book Company, which meant I got a signed copy, and inhaled it the moment I got it.
I've read this book twice now. Each time I got something new from it. The first time I breathlessly followed Portia as she haplessly stumbled through a sinister conspiracy that encompassed heaven and hell and all points in between. The second time I was slowly drawn along by the hopeless love between Portia and the long-dead Imogen. I felt myself being swallowed by an acute sense of dread and betrayal. I reveled in Harvey's clever use of Catholic prayers and trinkets, and gleefully studied every piece of steampunk technology that appeared.
This is a short book, but it has a tight plot, and an evil cliffhanger. To top it off, it is lovingly illustrated by Melissa Gay, who simply seems to life the characters off the page and spin them into visual reality. I can't recommend it enough for its freshness, suspense, and steampunky goodness.