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on 29 August 2012
Im not into 'steampunk' and to enjoy this book you need not be, infact it might be better if you are just looking for a great adventure.....saves on all the nitpicking...just sit back and get carried along....very enjoyable
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on 4 October 2012
I have long been a fan of the Spring Heeled Jack mythology but this book certainly takes a unique twist on the character. At first I was a bit taken aback by how far off course this version of Victorian history had gone and while some of the inventions of the Technologist were quite believable the work of the Eugenicists was a little hard to take, until I started to get the humor. I had heard of Burton before, though not Swinburne, and was interested reading about him as a character. Hodder's inventiveness is remarkable as he weaves a very complicated set of sightings and alternative versions of what Spring Heeled Jack was supposed to be, into one clear series of events. Burton's character was so well developed that not only did I order the other two books in the series The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man (Burton Swinburne 2)] and [[ASIN:1616145358 Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon (Burton & Swinburne) but also bought a biography of Richard Burton to read Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography
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on 4 June 2015
Excellent first novel, a bit rough round some of the edges but a good addition to the time continuum genre.
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on 16 July 2014
Inventive, great characters, colourful & atmospheric. A page turner!
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on 30 January 2016
Strange indeed - and thoroughly enjoyable for it!
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on 10 September 2010
The title and the cover illustration certainly was an enticing combination ~ but the pleasure of reading this novel far surpassed any expectation! The characters, particularly of Sir Richard Francis Burton (a personal favourite and hero of mine), were well-defined and pleasantly with some obviously personal flaws. Nice to read about heroes with flaws because they seem all that much more believable. The "visuals" of the book are fascinating and fantastic and pulling in theSteampunk elements truly enhanced the world Mark Hodder created.

Okay, so that all being said, when's the sequel coming out??????????????
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on 7 December 2015
great storytelling book covers are good
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on 9 November 2011
Really enjoyed this! I'm sure there are better examples of alternate history, or steampunk or whatever you choose to call it, available but this book zips along so nicely it's difficult to my mind to fault it! Things seemed a bit stilted at the start and somewhat old fashioned, reminding me to some degree of the old Edger Rice Burroughs books I used to read, but I gradually accepted that this style was intentional and as the story unfolded, with lots of weird inventions and happenings, it felt more and more right.

The time travel parts of the book will make your head spin with their complexities but by the end everything makes sense ..... if time travel, were wolves, and Victorian flying machines can ever make sense!!

Recommended! I look forward to reading others in the series.
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'The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack' is a straightforward Steampunk novel. All the standard archtypes are present: A swashbuckling hero, fog choked streets and gruesome reinventions of some notable historical figures. Where this novel differs from others in the genre, is that instead of the alternate-reality being presented as a fait-accompli, it is the actions of the novel's characters that bring about a grim alternate Victorian London. Pleasing though this idea is, the novel is a ponderous affair. Judicious pruning of the opening three-hundred pages would have made this novel a more satisfying read.

Comparison is inevitable between this book and 'Snow Books' stablemate George Mann's Newbury and Hobbes novels. Mann's novels divide opinion, and whilst they have their flaws, they move along at a frenetic pace, remaining action filled throughout. Hodder's is on the face of it the more thoughtful novel, but his attempts at adding gravitas are clumsy. For example, he often makes reference to Britain's foreign policy (of the time) as being a bad thing, but barely bothers to mention why. The introduction of time-travel opens up many interesting avenues for the plot, but falls foul of the 'shooting your grandfather' paradox. There is a vague suggestion at one stage that Hodder may have a clever way around it, but ultimately he decides not to bother, whilst hoping nobody notices.

Hodder's description, particularly in the early pages is verbose, robbing the novel of excitement. . The lead character, Sir Richard Burton, keeps pausing to look at things, taking every exquisite detail in, rather than getting on with the story. Okay, its a steam powered bicycle, who cares which strut goes where. There is far too much telling and not enough showing.

The use of historical characters in Steampunk is a common device. Hodder has done his research - Burton and Swinburne, two relatively minor Victorians, are vividly depicted, and made for an entertaining duo. It was Hodder's treatment of history's heavyweights, that didn't work for me. Darwin, Brunel and in particular Florence Nightingale come in for a serious and ugly rework. Although I don't think anybody's reputation should be inviolate, particularly in speculative fiction, the reworking done here seemed gratuitous and out of keeping with the historical figures in question.

Which leads me on to my final gripe - by suggesting that the world of Spring Heeled Jack, is our world altered, Hodder has put himself in a bind. If the mechanics of the world are not explained, then the author can get away with a bit of magic, or technological slight of hand. But this is our would with one minor historical change. Personalities would not be changed wholesale, and the laws of physics and physiology would not suddenly become malleable. This feels a little like I'm splitting hairs - this is a work of imagination, and more or less anything can happen, but I just could not help feeling that the novel lacked credibility.

That is not to say 'Spring Heeled Jack' is a bad book. Although flawed, most of the time, this is an an entertaining read. Part Two (the novel is split in to three parts) is particularly good, being both exciting and inventive. It's a shame the other two parts weren't of the same high quality. Had they been this would have been an excellent novel, rather than an average one. If you like Steampunk novels, then there is still some enjoyment to be had from this novel, but don't expect to be blown away. If you are new to the genre, then I wouldn't start here...
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on 19 September 2015
A good ripping yarn.
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