Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding:
Retribution Falls is the first of the four-part Tales of the Ketty Jay series. It definitely falls under the Steampunk category with an emphasis on the gritty details of life in a war-torn Edwardian era and an emphasis on the mechanical workings of a nearly-derelict armored metal airship kept aloft by “aerium” and propelled by “prothane.” Piloting this unlikely airship is the burnt-out sky pirate Darian Fey, who (at least at first) cynically leads his rag-tag band of misfits and rogues on yet another one of his unlucky escapades.
Fey intentionally tempts fate by accepting a job that is too good to be true and is framed for the subsequent disaster. With echoes of the beginning of WWI the catastrophe results in the death of an important political figure and begins a march to war. The crime elevates Fey from just a petty criminal to the most wanted man on Vardia. This swashbuckling tale is a rip-roaring adventure filled with nail-biting aerial dogfights, and an astonishing assortment of daring ground missions fought out with pistols, shotguns, and swords.
Pursued by the Coalition Navy, Fey must locate the person who framed him and clear his name. As the story unfolds, the cynical captain learns to care for the broken, haunted, and possessed crew of the Ketty Jay. This is an extraordinary and diverse cast of characters, and Wooding does an absolutely masterful job of breathing life into them. As much as I loved the adventurous aspects of this series, I must admit that the author's greatest strength is in his characterizations. You can read each book in the series individually as a stand-alone novel, but I strongly advise starting at the beginning and reading all four. You'll fall in love with the characters and struggle and grow along with them while they fight their inner daemons.
Get the Whole Series
Tales of the Ketty Jay Book 1: Retribution Falls
Tales of the Ketty Jay Book 2: The Black Lung Captain
Tales of the Ketty Jay Book 3:
Tales of the Ketty Jay Book 4: Ace of Skulls