3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2013
Four and a Half Stars. Very entertaining.
I came into this novel with the spectre of "Steampunk" hovering at my shoulder. A major criticism I have of most of these novels is the way that they must adhere so rigidly to the self-imposed strictures of "being steampunk" that they tend to blur in to an identical homogeneous soup. All characters must be drawn from a stock-book of set stereotypes. Every paragraph must contain description of some new gadget (you can almost hear the authors jumping with delight at their own cleverness in creating a new minor variation on the steam-powered television). Every author so obsessed with sticking to the "fluff" that they often neglect to put any thought in to the characters or story. Like the film "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" - lots of CGI, lots of gadgets, lots of one-liners and nothing holding it together.
In short, the Steampunk genre (like Star Wars or other franchise novels) is drowning in its own nerdy obsession with the minutiae.
As it turned out I was pleasantly surprised that, as a precursor to the now universal genre, this novel is happily unshackled by the conventions of the Steampunk universe.
An entertaining story with a nice variety of eccentric and grotesque characters with a vein of black humour that I would expect more from British author. While some of the subject matter is grotesque, it is also amusing and (without giving anything away) I did feel at times that, as the disparate characters chased around the country in search of certain items, I was reading a Tom Sharpe novel.
The novel is also thankfully free of the 21st Century now almost universal stock overpowering "I've-got-bigger-bollocks-than-any-man" female lead character.
There are a few American usages which do jar rather in Victorian London, but other than these an excellent stab at an HG Wells style story (even if with added disembowelled carp and the walking dead)...
If you are sick and tired of the stock characters, the thousand steam-powered gizmos and the lack of any noticeable story then I would recommend reading "Homunculus". I will certainly be seeking out the next books in the series.
Four and a half stars
on 1 July 2015
This was so hard to get through. The language is extremely tedious. It may have been an interesting experiment to write in a grammatical and rhythmic style from the Victorian Era, but one's readers should not be subjected to such experimentation. We're fans and customers, not lab mice. Also, every character was such a cliché. The author was off with a bang having the first character be a hunchbacked minion a-la Renfield. Seriously Blaylock?
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Having enjoyed the Aylesbury Skull by James, I really couldn't wait to get started when this title landed yet after a few pages I was left wondering what I was so excited about as I was left trying to remember what had made this something that I had been counting down the days for. It was slow, the concept something I've read before and whilst it does pick up for the last part it really wasn't a book that left me as fulfilled as the previous.
Don't get me wrong, there are some really good bits of action in here and with a suitable cast within it really should have been so much more, yet in parts it felt more clichéd than anything else especially when the main villain was concerned. Sadly this isn't one a book that I'll be telling readers to start with but it does what you want and is on the same level as a good few others out there but as for standing out, sadly not so much.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2013
I had high expectations when I bought this book - great reviews and a cool steampunk world. But do not bother, though the steampunk London is described well and is atmospheric, everything else is poor. The characters are dull and you really never engagement with any of them. The story line is dull and there is very little energy in the writing and at times it is hard to be bothered to turn the next page. So painfully did the story get that half way through I gave up reading the book. Now I never give up on a book so it must be bad for me to do that and hence why I felt I should put a review up on Amazon to save others the same pain.