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The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne, #1)
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The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne #1)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  4,041 ratings  ·  617 reviews
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 e...more
Paperback, 511 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Snowbooks (first published January 1st 2010)
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Soulless by Gail CarrigerLeviathan by Scott WesterfeldBoneshaker by Cherie PriestPerdido Street Station by China MiévilleThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Best Steampunk Books
23rd out of 660 books — 3,235 voters
Winter of the Passion Flower by Annie SeatonAnno Dracula by Kim NewmanAgatha H and the Airship City by Phil FoglioThe Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark HodderRetribution Falls by Chris Wooding
Favourite Steampunk/Alt. History Novels
4th out of 84 books — 118 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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This super debut novel is like a sweet, dainty cup of mild English tea...if it was spiked with Absinthe, poured into a heavy brass goblet and served with Laudanum-laced cookies shaped like medical experiments gone awry. In other words, a great blend of prim, proper and the freakishly bizarre...somebody pass the hookah, this one’s gonna get weird.

Set in 1861 in an Victorian Albertian England, Mark Hodder has created one of the most enticingly strange and intriguing steampunk worlds I have come a...more
mark monday
EH? EH! this desperate steampunk non-adventure plays like an overly hysterical farce with delusions of grandeur. although seemingly full of creative ideas, those ideas have run sadly amuck. there is no grounding of the frivolity within interesting characterization or sparkling dialogue - both of which remain almost obstinately insipid and amateurish; famous english personages are tossed around willy-nilly with little sense and zero resonance; cutesie-poo preciousness is found everywhere, from th...more
I'm sitting here trying to decide how to say what I need to say about The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, and I can't get my review of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker out of my head. So I'm going let it inspire me:

I dug Mark Hodder’s The Strange Affair of Spring-heeled Jack, but it was too damn much.

I dug Albertan England, but the changes from the Victorian England I am familiar with were too outrageous, too far beyond what even my whacked-out imagination could accept.

I dug the loups-garous, b...more
Sep 06, 2013 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sexy Indian nuns, time traveling perverts, poets who like a good birching
Steampunk is all the rage nowadays. The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack seizes the trend in an intriguingly weird story that turns history on its head, thanks to the inept bungling of a time-traveler who, in our world, was one of the most notorious urban legends of Victorian England.

I am not really a huge fan of steampunk. Actually, to put it bluntly, I think most steampunk is stupid, an excuse to mix corsets and Anglophilia with science fiction.

But I enjoyed this book a lot. It's rip-roari...more
Kelli Lee
Jun 28, 2011 Kelli Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs who love them some fantasy and everyone else
Mad props to author Mark Hodder for the amount of research and time that went into writing this novel. It had to be a veritable migraine tidying it all together into book form. And I hand out an A+ for originality.

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is a madcap, whimsical tale of epic proportions centering around actual historical figures who lived during the Victorian period. Specifically the explorer/anthropologist Sir Richard Francis Burton and his very own Watson - the unabashed Marqui...more
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is a clever mash-up of well researched history and the author's wide imagination.

It follows the historical figure of Sir Richard Francis Burton, who does become a king's agent in this novel. His job is to solve the mystery of Spring Heeled Jack, an apparition on stilts who's supposed to have attacked a few people, but is disregarded as a myth. During the novel the strange masochistic poet Algernon Swinburne starts to assist Burton with his investigation.

Aug 09, 2013 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steam-punk fans
I'm so glad I stumbled onto this imaginative steam-punk series. I loved the protagonist, a 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, steam engine-propelled penny farthings and flying rotochairs (view spoiler).

I loved the inclusion of so many personalities of the time, such as Charles D...more
5 pointy things that at one point were called stars...

Wow, this is a steam punk farce that is a joyride of a read. It is a whimsical, alt history, science fiction, steam punk novel that centers around time travel.

The alt world building is spectacular.

The protagonists Burton and Swineburne are a fantastic team and they really work as an investigative team.

The side characters are colorful and add depth to this romp.

The structure of this novel elevat the level of this book from good to absolutely g...more
The Spring Heeled Jack novel that introduces an alt-history England of the early 1860's with a steampunk flavor and features Richard Burton as main hero who becomes a "special agent" of the king - among other changes Queen Victoria is assassinated in 1840 - with Algernon Swinburne as a sort of sidekick, while many notables like Darwin, Brunel, Oscar Wilde have cameos is for most part an unstable mixture of the modern Victoriana - a bit of a misnomer as above but still - (Lazarus Club, Meaning of...more
I had to switch the edition of this book upon reviewing, because I picked this book for the cover. after reading the iron duke I knew I wanted to try steampunk and knowing nothing about it and no one who knew anything about it I was left standing in front of a steampunk display at work which had among other things:

I'm not an idiot. and the problem with the last one was that it was a romance.

Which okay I read it, it was fine but not great, pretty pictures, but I want the full novel experience....more
Who or what was Spring Heeled Jack?

You don't know Spring Heeled Jack from Jack? Silly bugger. Spring Heeled Jack was a man (or was he?) that terrorized young women of London in the 1880s.

He was, well, a pervert.

He, supposedly, breathed fire and ripped the clothes off of women.

I can't remember if he came before the London Monster (who stabbed women in the buttucks) or after, but he is like that.

Mark Hodder takes the mystery of Spring Heeled Jack and combines it with an alternate universe, where t...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Hodder needed a different, meaner editor for his first novel. Anywhere from 20% - 25% could go. Every incident goes on a little too long. The second half of every compound sentence could be dropped. Conversations are over before Hodder cuts them off. He never got the memo on adverbs.

This is the steampunk novel I have read, and I am not the best audience. I don't care about the gadgetry, and the gadgetry seems to be much of the attraction here. On the other hand, I am a sucker for time travel sto...more
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 t...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I suppose after consideration, that maybe I'm just not going to be a fan of "Steam Punk". I've tried several books, I'll read the synopsis and think "wow, good idea, I should like this". I get the book, I go in expecting to be interested and to like the novel....but I don't.

Pretty much the same here. I considered giving the book 3 stars. I just couldn't justify going that high when by the end of the book I'd lost interest, didn't care much about the characters and was fairly glad to see it end....more
4.5pts rounded up to 5pts.

PS Sorry if I missed any of you out on the Recomms :) Anyone loving Steampunk & Alternate History should have this on their trl!

A grand insight into the world of Burton & Swinburne which we cant quite call "Victorian" Steampunk but all is very akin as various Gothic characters & notorieties of the time appear in various guises a la Tarantino style with their bit parts. Mr Hodder fare stokes up the atmosphere of the foggy coal infused East End with his writin...more
Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

I read The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack on the recommendation of a friend who is into steampunk and "bizarro world" novels. So far I've taken a pass on the bizarro world genre, but I do read some steampunk. My preference in steampunk novels is with those that teach us about human nature and the alternate timeline that branched off to become our own; I'm thinking particularly about China Miéville and his Perdido Street Station, or Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perp...more
Two stars means it was okay, and three stars means I liked it, so call it a 2½ or a 2¾. I wanted to like this book, and it was filled with great ideas, and really did have its moments, but the things that dragged it down for me were lackluster prose that felt incongruous with the Victorian setting, the predictability of the plot, the villain's stupidity (SHJ), a catalog of names and dates to keep track of without sufficient supporting context (should have made a cheat sheet!), and elements of fa...more
Whoo hoo! This book is so much FUN!

Okay, here's my breakdown on the book . . .

The first part -- roughly 2/3 of the book -- is set in Victorian (-ish) London and focuses on Sir Richard Burton and Algernon Swinburne. Burton is faced with a bizarre mystery concerning the abduction of young chimney sweeps, as well as attacks by the legendary (and believed to be fictional) Spring Heeled Jack.

This part of the book was an easy 3 stars for me. The world described here is very well imagined, and includes...more
Sir Richard Francis Burton thought his reputation was ruined after his friend betrayed him, but unknown to him certain things happened which changed the course of his life and the history of the Empire.
He gets an unexpected job offer from the Prime minister to be a king's agent who would investigate the things Scotland Yard wouldn't or couldn't. He accepts, of course.
He is not alone. A lot of people want to help. Some of them die because of it ((view spoiler)...more
One of the better steampunk books I've read this book is of an alternate history where steampunk and Eugenics rule the British world. Spring Heeled Jack is terrorising London and only an ex-explorer can stop him.

I really enjoyed this book and, I may be alone in this, really preferred the Eugenics side compared to the steampunk. I'd have like to have seen more of the mad creations. I liked that they weren't perfect, like the swearing parakeets.

What let the book down was the length and the histor...more
Ian Tregillis
A cracking adventure, what what! With many marks of exclamation!

This is gonzo alternate history turned to 11. Wild ideas abound, and they swirl around some of the more interesting historical characters of the 1860s. Many books might use a run-of-the-mill brain in a bell jar to provide the occasional eyeball kick for the reader. But I admire the sheer audacity of any book that takes that ho-hum brain in a bell jar and surgically implants it atop the head of a talking orangutan. That is demented g...more
I'd been meaning to read this for ages, but when I finally got round to it I couldn't really find any enthusiasm. Which is sad, since there are some awesome reviews out there, but it really didn't come together well -- the characters are all caricatures, and if he could write more stereotypically Victorian women I don't want to read him doing it. Oh for some capable, sensible women...

The alternate history and so on is interesting, and there's a certain energy to the prose, but it started slowly,...more
Shanshad Whelan
I picked this up after a run of perfectly uninspiring urban fantasies. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but was delighted with what I found. An alernate Victorian history steampunk novel full of familiar characters in unfamiliar roles. An engaging and fascinating romp through an England I've never even thought to imagine, but fully enjoyed seeing crafted on the pages I read.

Rather than a plucky young heroine or hero engaged in a wild steampunk ride, our protagonist is none other than Sir...more
I'm not a huge fan of steampunk but any book that has Sir Richard Francis Burton as a protagonist automatically predsposes me towards liking it. In this case the fact that the book is well written and researched historically and features a plethora of other famous Victorians of whom I am quite fond only furter ehances the appeal. A very promising debut novel and one of the rare instances where I am fervently hoping for a sequel. Well done.
K. Bird
You know that rebooted Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. and the over-the-top action and villains?

Imagine you cross that kind of pulp action with a Victorian England and cast of historical characters backed up with detailed research and believability....

Only then take away Queen Victoria. Add a rivalry between Technologists and Eugenecists (biological engineering) that causes the world to be populated by "broomcats" (statically-charged long-haired cats that sweep your floor and then a...more
Jimm Wetherbee
Spring Heeled Jack was a real character of the 19th century, or at least as real as alien abductors are. Jack first made his appearance in the mid 1830's and while reports were concentrated then and in the 1860's, sightings continued into the early 1920's. Jack was described as having red eyes, a large helmeted head, a bat-wing like cape, stilt-like heels, and prodigious jumping ability. Some reports had him jump twenty feet in the air. Jack was also notorious for molesting very young women. Wit...more
aPriL loves HalLowEen
I liked but not loved. I've given four stars because it was clever by throwing in real inventions from the mid-1880's and it posed some interesting dilemmas which occurred from time traveling. I had the most fun Googling the inventions and studying the drawings. It is a madcap movie, basically, and entertaining, but without the inventions, this is a three star, really. But if you unpack the novel, the entire story is a Rube Goldberg machine.

The oddness of everything draws you into the book and k...more
Chance Maree
I enjoyed reading this time travel/ alternative history novel, and probably would have relished it to a greater extent were I more familiar with English historical events and figures. Even so, I recognized most of the main characters and parts of London I've seen, so the setting and actors came alive. The fantastical elements were great fun, full of imagination and humor, like a bit of old fashioned Sherlock Holmes mixed with the craziness of Austin Powers - the writing was very visual.

The stor...more
This is an amazing book. It is not at all my usual cup of tea, but its hero(?) is Sir Richard Francis Burton, whose career has always fascinated me, so I tried it. A page and a half into the book I was utterly captured. Its milieu is an alternate London in the mid 1800's, a world where/when Victoria has been assassinated and Albert reigns over a bizarre technological revolution. The eminent Victorians (Albertians?) featured in the plot include Florence Nightengale, Oscar Wilde, Isambard Kingdom...more
I couldn't finish this. Hell, I couldn't get more than 60 pages into it.

If you have enough imagination to create an alternate Victorian England with genetically engineered animals and steam-powered bicycles, you should have enough imagination to do something about the casual sexism, racism, and classism of the time as well. Or at least examine those issues instead of just accepting them. Feh.

I also bounced pretty hard off the writing style, but that's a personal preference--I generally prefer a...more
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British writer living in Valencia, Spain.

Mark Hodder is the creator and caretaker of the Blakiana: The Sexton Blake Resource web site, which he designed to celebrate, record, and revive Sexton Blake, the most written about fictional detective in English publishing history.

A former BBC writer, editor, journalist, and Web producer, Mark has worked in all the new and traditional medias and was based...more
More about Mark Hodder...
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man (Burton & Swinburne, #2) Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon (Burton & Swinburne, #3) The Secret of Abdu El-Yezdi (Burton & Swinburne, #4) A Red Sun Also Rises The Return of the Discontinued Man (Burton & Swinburne, #5)

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