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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining romp through time, 19 May 2011
This review is from: The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne) (Hardcover)
Burton and Swinburne in a nineteenth-century adventure? Sounds good to me. But then I did (disclosure) write a novel featuring Algernon Swinburne myself. It was entitled "Deadly Vices", and you can find the Kindle version on Amazon; it was published under the pen-name Patrick Read.

Mark Hodder's Spring-Heeled Jack adventure is an example of what modern critics call steampunk. That is to say, it is set in a Victorian-era England which is (or appears to be) in a kind of parallel universe. Hence this particular version of England has flying machines well before they appeared in our world; and indeed, in Hodder's world Queen Victoria herself was shot dead very early in her reign, whereas in our (real?) world the Queen survived several attempts on her life.

The main thrust of the story concerns Burton's attempts to fulfil his duties as the King's agent and find out what is behind the mysterious appearances of Spring-Heeled Jack: a being who is not, in seems, quite of this world. Indeed not. It turns out, in fact, that he is from the future.

The second half of the book then becomes an exposition of the perils and complications of going back in time and trying to fix things so that the future works out the way it should. And, as anyone who has been reading even occasional science fiction knows, such tinkering can lead to all kinds of trouble.

All in all, a thoroughly entertaining tale. It will appeal most, I think, to those who are familiar with steampunk, and/or those who know their nineteenth-century English history.

The book design is unusual and not, in my opinion, entirely satisfactory. The font is small, and the space between lines is large. Less space and a larger point size would have been better for my eyes.

There are occasional typos, some of them puzzling. The typesetter seems to have been incapable of putting apostrophes the right way round, at the beginning of words, at any point in the book. Words such as em (for them) and ere (for here) should be preceded by a 9-shaped apostrophe, not a 6. As for Spring-Heeled Jack: he gets a hyphen on the cover but not on the title page; and he has one in the running heads but not in the text. `Here here' is normally rendered as `Hear, hear' - at least in our world. And likewise `En guard!' should surely be `En Garde!', as all readers of swashbuckle well know.
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