The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is the first in a series of called Burton & Swinburne by Mark Hodder. The book series follows the exploits of one fictionalized Sir Richard Francis Burton, his side-kick, an equally fictionalized Algernon Charles Swinburne, and their adventures in this alternate Victorian England, complete with genetically modified animals, and steam engine-propelled penny farthings.
The world created by Hodder is an amazing whimsical, alt history England of the early 1860’s with a definite steampunk tone. It is gritty, harsh, and humorous. Our story as I said follows two companions and their exploits, Richard Burton our main protagonist whom becomes a special agent of the king (Yes that’s right I said King, among other changes in this timeline one of the biggest was the assassination of Queen Victoria in 1840. ). Along with his sort of sidekick Algernon Charles Swinburne, unsuccessful poet and follower of de Sade. These two are placed on a perilous path by Lord Palmerston whom commissions Burton to investigate the ongoing assaults on young women committed by a weird apparition, and to find out why werewolves are terrorizing London’s East End.
Their investigation leads them to one of the defining events of the age along with cameo’s by various notable names of the period such as Darwin, Brunel, and Oscar Wilde this story shapes up to be one interesting, hilarious and decadent romp into the world of steampunk.
This was a hilarious wacky story, and personally its one of the best steampunk novels I have ever read! The characters are hilarious and incredibly comical. Hodder clearly looked into the people of the era who were prominent and influential and did his upmost to include them into the main part of the cast, although they don’t act like they would in our world/ timeline but why would they? it’s a completely different situation that’s what makes it so interesting! having these prominent characters, knowing what they are like in our world, and yet ever so slightly different, sometimes even unpredictable! a brilliant example of this is the cameo of Burton & Fidget as they track a kidnapped character across london, it is its own little adventure in iteself both well crafted and highly entertaining.
I cant really reveal anymore without ruining the story, so i will simply close by saying READ IT, you WILL love it I’m sure
Until next time, read more books!