Friday, November 30, 2012

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

Today's post is on 'The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack' by Mark Hodder. This is the first book in a series Burton & Swinburne. It is published by Pyr and is 371 pages including a brief historical information about the characters in the book. It has a very lovely cover by Jon Sullivan showing Jack with blue flames and in the rest is in grey scale. The intended readers are adults who like steampunk, alt history, or well written books. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

The year is 1861 and King Albert is on the English throne. Sir Richard Francis Burton has just gotten the worst news of his life. His friend and competitor John Hanning Speke has shot himself in the head on the day they were to debate about the source of the Nile. On his way back to his house, after getting drunk at his club, Burton is attacked by a strange man, on silts and glowing with blue fire,  who blackens his eyes and yells at him to leave him( the blue fiery man) alone. Burton has no idea either who he is or what. The next day Burton is contacted by the Prime Minister and asked to investigate the very odd things that happen in the Empire. Like Jack and dogs who walk like men and many other odd things. After having people die around him, Burton decides that he is going to go it alone. That is until Swinburne begs him to take him on as his assistant. Algernon Swinburne is a poet who needs to feel live or else his end will come in a bottle. So with a new assistant Burton goes to uncover the mystery of Spring Heeled Jack. In this world there really is more than your philosophy has ever dreamed of.

There are parts of the story that are not interesting but 85% is just enchanting. The world building in this book is some of the best that I have ever read. It is so subtle. Hodder gives you pieces of the world so that it does not overwhelm you. It is like uncovering a world that you thought you knew but just did not realize it. I liked Burton who you spend the most time with but I hope that Swinburne has a bigger role in the next book. You just do not get much time with him but time you are with him, Swinburne is really funny. Hodder did great amounts of research into the real Victorian age to give us offset one. As someone who read a lot of books from this time(yay English major) I really appreciated all the little details, like calling a match a lucifer.

I give it Four and Half stars. I get nothing for my review and I bought this book with my little money.