Tag Archives: Steampunk

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

3 Sep

I spent the weekend reading “TheStrange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter” by Theodora Goss.

Mary Jekyll’s mother has just died, leaving her poor. She discovers that her mother has been supporting a young girl, Diana Hyde.

Mary begins a quest, with the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, to discover what actually happened to her father, Dr Henry Jekyll, and his association with the Society of Alchemists (I’ve anglicized it. My French isn’t up to it).

Throw in a series of murders in Whitechapel, and the daughters of other society members. such as Moreau and Frankenstein, and you have a marvellous romp of a story.

The book caught my eye when Charles Prepolec was reading it, and he liked it, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I WANT MORE!

The Metatemporal Detective

17 Nov

I was familiar with the name Michael Moorcock, but I’d never read anything of his, until “The Metatemporal Detective” pinged on my radar.

The book is an anthology of Moorcock stories about Sir Seaton Begg aka Sexton Blake and his distant cousin, and not so distant, sometime adversary, Monsieur Zenith, as they either battle or work together across the multiverses to solve crimes and save lives.

“The Metatemporal Detective” is a weirdly charming book and also charmingly weird.  It mixes detective fiction with fantasy, a touch of steampunk, and seasons it with the Holy Grail.  It is possibly one of the, if not THE, oddest book I have ever read.

I loved it.

However, I have no idea who to recommend it to, except to say if you love well written books that are more than a little offbeat, then “The Metatemporal Detective” is for you.

The Hanged Man

27 Sep

“The Hanged Man” is a fantastic new novel by P. N. Elrod, the start of a new series: “Her Majesty’s Psychic Service”.

Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury, named for her godmother, Queen Victoria, works for Her Majesty’s Psychic Service.  Mostly Alex works with Scotland Yard as a Forensic Reader, but when a close family member is murdered, Alex finds herself confronting terror and treason at every turn.

Set in a Victorian England where Victoria married an English peer, not a German prince, and where women got both the vote and equal rights in 1859, “The Hanged Man” is best described as historical urban fantasy with steampunk overtones.

The book is a joy to read from start to finish.  The characters are well rounded and delightful.  I am hoping future books will have more of Alex’s cousin James, and his doctor friend Hamish, whose first name actually appears to be John…  We didn’t learn his surname, but I’m pretty much betting it happens to be Watson.

A well plotted and fun read.

Highly recommended.

The Will of the Dead

23 Feb

An elderly man is found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs and his Will is missing.  Meanwhile a series of jewel robberies is taking place across London; carried out by “iron men”.  Scotland Yard is at its wits end.  Enter Sherlock Holmes.

That’s pretty much the plot for “The Will of the Dead”, and it’s a ripper of a read.  I started it last night and did not put it down until I had finished it.

The book could be considered pre-steampunk, as it ties into George Mann’s ‘Newbury and Hobbes’ series of books, with the events taking place many years prior to “The Affinity Bridge”.  The link between the worlds, however, is via Charles Bainbridge, who in this book is an Inspector at Scotland Yard and a friend of Lestrade’s.  Newbury and Hobbes do not appear.

“The Will of the Dead” is also an excellent Sherlock Holmes pastiche.  Mann has captured the friendship between Holmes and Watson perfectly.

The book is also well plotted and well written enough to satisfy even the fussiest Sherlockian.

Highly recommended.

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man

8 Oct

“The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man” is the second book in the Burton and Swinburne steampunk series by Mark Hodder.

I wasn’t expecting the book to be as good as the first, “The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack”.  It wasn’t.  It was even better.

The characters of Sir Richard Burton and Algernon Swinburne have rounded out quite a bit.  Burton seems to be a little less dark, and Swinburne is just as enchantingly perverted as before, with added sarcasm.

This story revolves around black diamonds known as the Eyes of Naga, and the Victorian scammer known as the Tichbourne Claimant.  The clockwork man of the title is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square and is pivotal to the story.

This book also sees the return of police officers Trounce, Honesty and Krishnamurthy from the first novel.  They are joined this time around by Krishnamurthy’s cousin Bhatti.

A couple of new permanent characters have been added.  Unemployed philosopher Henry Spencer, and Sir Richard’s own personal foul mouthed parakeet, Pox.

“The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man” is a rollicking, bouncing tale that rattles along at full steam from page one right to the very end.

It is obvious that this series is heading somewhere, rather than just being open ended adventures for Burton and Swinburne.

You don’t need to have read “The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack” before reading this, as many incidents in that book are referred to in this one.  However, I would recommend reading the first book before progressing to this one.  As I said, it is obvious that this is a series with intentions and you may miss something if you skip the first novel.

I’m very much looking forward to reading book three, “Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon”.

 

The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack

22 Sep

I am not a reader of Steampunk fiction, at least, I wasn’t until I came across “The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack” by Mark Hodder.

“The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack” is the first investigation by King’s Agent, Sir Richard Burton and his assistant, Algernon Charles Swinburne.  Mark Hodder sets out a wonderful alternative Victorian landscape where Albert is King after his wife’s assassination, and technology rules Britannia.

The novel is a wonderful tale of alternate history and time travel with a robust and delightful cast of characters.  Burton and Swinburne have an almost Holmes/Watson touch to them, or perhaps, given their particular vices, a touch of Moriarty/Moran may be more accurate,

I found the book enchanting, and delightfully humourous in many places.  The foul-mouthed messenger parakeets are hysterical.

On a darker note, the book is something of a cautionary tale of the dangers of technology allowed to run rampant with no thought to morals and ethics.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend “The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack” to anyone who enjoys Steampunk, alternate history, or just a riotous romp of a yarn.

 

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