21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Burton and Swinburne in the Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne) (Paperback)
Well if this book was launched with a fanfare I must have been out of the country! and despite it being exactly the kind of book I love, for once Amazon failed to 'recommend' it to me. Still, I do still trawl book shops and came accross this little known about gem in the fantasy section.
This whole 'steam punk' genre seems to be growing all the time, and for those readers as yet unblooded in it, this makes an excellent point to jump in as it were. For those already familiar with the work of Stephen Hunt this is very similar, just as enjoyable but perhaps a little easier to get into.
If Hunt takes the Victorian era, chops it up into a broth and stirs in a bag full of magic mushrooms! Mark Hodder rather takes the same era and re-looks at it through a prism. A psychaedelic prism perhaps though!
Sir Richard Burton (the explorer not the hubbie of Elizabeth Taylor) is back from his attempt to find the source of the Nile. His planned debate with rival Speke is interupted, when his one time friend, shoots himself. Rushing to London to try reconcile their differences before Speke dies, Burton is accosted by the legendry Spring heeled Jack.
The assaulter of young women and inspiration for Rolling Stones songs!
Things only get weirder from there. Speke is snatched from hospital by seeming werewolves, the King offers Burton a job and the great and the good of Victorian England all start to behave rather differently to our history books version of them!
What on earth is going on! Burton needs help and enlists the alcaholic and masochistic poet Algernon Swinburne, the young paper boy Oscar Wilde and even a flock of foul mouthed parakeets to find out!
What follows is a fast flowing, exciting and witty caper with Hodder's tongue firmly stuck to his cheek.
There are some more serious ethical questions posed. Genetics and industrialisation, but this is a 'romp' of a book.
One word of warning. If you do decide to read it don't do what I did and read the Appendix till you have finished the book. It gives a factual potted history of the real people Hodder uses in the story but also gives away some of the plot.
In summary a thoroughly enjoyable book and an author who is a very welcome addition to this writing genre (in my book!). Who would I be, to disagree with the legend that is Michael Moorcock?
I hope this is a series as I want another!