The only problem with the Mountains of the Moon was I wasn't sure where Hodder was going to be able to go from there. With The Secret of Abdu El-Yezdi, he showed us where, or whereS with a capital "S". There is no end to the amount of adventures the intrepid adventurer and his De Sade devotee sidekick can go.
And this, the first in the continuing adventures, packed a lot of possibilities into the punch. Most of the characters you've come to know and love and even revile are here in this ever changing tempestuous temporal tale. I never like to just spout off the plot in a review, you can read a synopsis elsewhere. What I want to get across is the sheer genius of Hodder's storytelling and his mastery of the time travel element. We, as the reader, are left knowing more than Burton as the story begins and from our omniscient point of reference we can see just how convoluted is the time stream. Reference is made to the other stories where needed to refresh our memories and the whole story flows in an organic and satisfying direction.
Needless to say I loved this latest installment as much, if not more, than the others, because I can see the future unfurling for Burton and Swinburne.
Welcome to the Urban World of Yesteryear in this fourth exciting outing for Burton and Swinburne. As with the other titles in the series it brings together a whole host of elements There's a whole host of twists and turns, has some thrilling action sequences and when added to characters that will twist your comprehension of not only time but personality quirks all round makes this a book that is a joy to sit back with.
Add to the mix a cracking overall arc, some top notch dialogue which when backed with the authors own identifiable writing style all round makes this a book that will give you a wonderful time between the pages. Great stuff.
At the end of the previous trilogy it looked as though there was nowhere left to go in this series of books. All of the major players were accounted for, most in entirely final ways, and Sir Richard Francis Burton had himself become the ultimate architect of all of the woes that had befallen them. It was a bleak place. At first, as this novel opens, I thought Hodder had pulled a daring cheat, simply rebooting his universe and starting all over again. It’s more dizzying than that however, for the very fact that the universe is rebooted becomes a critical plot point, linking a new reality to the old one. Familiar faces meet again for the very first time, and there are added levels of tension around those meetings, donated wholly by the context of what went before but no longer happened. Except it did.
That’s parallel universes for you.
If it sounds headache inducing, then I’m misrepresenting. At the forefront of the plot is a take on Dracula that you haven’t seen before, and it offers a fast-paced, sometimes grim, often comic narrative to keep things rolling along. Beneath the surface though, these books have become immense. Context provided by things which did not ever happen, as well as things which did, play with the readers expectations as familiar themes and characters are reintroduced - sometimes subverting them, sometimes rewarding them. It’s a tremendous storytelling feat that could only have been accomplished over the course of a series which isn’t frightened to burn its bridges, and never forgets where the bodies lie.
The Batman and Robin of Victorian London are back on track with this new adventure, taking them into yet another distorted time to meet up with altered versions of prior friends and enemies. My only criticism is Hodder's including a rewrite of Bram Stoker's Dracula as part of the proceedings, though at least it serves to create atmosphere and advance the plot. Better than Blackwood & Harrington or Newbury & Hobbes, I'm looking forward immensely to Tales of a Discontinued Man and the return of a (if not the) Springheeled Jack.
It took a page or two to catch on to where ( or when) we were, kept me hooked to the end. The late sir Terry Pratchet has been my author of choice until I stumbled across mr Hodder. Back to the shop for the next instalment now.