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Thursday, January 17, 2013

REVIEW: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder

London, 1861.

Sir Richard Francis Burton—explorer, linguist, scholar, and swordsman; his reputation tarnished; his career in tatters; his former partner missing and probably dead.

Algernon Charles Swinburne—unsuccessful poet and follower of de Sade; for whom pain is pleasure, and brandy is ruin!

They stand at a crossroads in their lives and are caught in the epicenter of an empire torn by conflicting forces: Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier, and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labor; Libertines oppose repressive laws and demand a society based on beauty and creativity; while the Rakes push the boundaries of human behavior to the limits with magic, drugs, and anarchy. The two men are sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum when Lord Palmerston commissions Burton to investigate assaults on young women committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack, and to find out why werewolves are terrorizing London's East End.

Their investigations lead them to one of the defining events of the age, and the terrifying possibility that the world they inhabit shouldn't exist at all!

Book: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
Release Date: April 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Genre: Alternative History / Fantasy
Series: Burton & Swinburne, #1
Obtained: Purchased
Rating:PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket (4 Zombies)

Before I read this book on a whim, I had been reading mostly paranormal young adult, and I was reading really slowly, but I couldn't figure out why. After I flew through Spring Heeled Jack, I realized that had tn tired of YA and needed to switch genres for a while, and steampunk was as good a genre as any. I'd always enjoyed it, even if most of the good ones happen to be quite a bit longer than the average book.

My favorite part of SHJ was seeing familiar historical figures up close and personal. There were some very recognizable names sprinkled throughout the book, as well as some more obscure ones, and the history nerd in me gave a little squee of joy every time I spotted one.

I'm not quite sure why the series is called Burton & Swinburne, because the later wasn't involved in much until the very end, but he was definitely an awesome character once he got more page time. I hope he's a larger part of further books in the series.

If you're at all a fan of alternative history or fantasy, I would definitely recommend you give this book a try!