Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
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Jan 24, 2011

it was ok

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. I started out interested (of course I'm interested in the era, in the exploration of Africa, Sir Richard Burton, Stanley and Livingston, etc. so it started out with some things to boost my interest). The book opens with Sir Richard Burton as the protagonist, except that he had been knighted years too soon. We soon are introduced to the steam punk elements of the novel. I'll try not to give any spoilers here but....as in most steam punk universes the anachronisms include far more than simply steam technology. Electricity and the interest of the day in eugenics (which continued over into the 20th century) are referenced (and of course played fast and loose with) to give just a "teaser".

The problem here is that the story takes a nose dive as we get further into it, the characters are sometimes interesting but at other times too familiar. I found much of it annoying. There comes a point where I suspect most of you will say..."okay I see what's going/gone on here". Without a spoiler I suppose I can say that a big part of the story here involves time travel and unintended consequences.

The writer plays fast and loose with the people of the day and while I suppose the argument that this is a different world might be applied, they are still supposed to be the same people from history. The book ends or ties up with a short synopsis as to what actually went on in the time span involved in this book.

So, as often before I'll say, I didn't hate this book I simply found it sliding from interesting to slow, you may find it less so. Try it, see what you think. I wasn't impressed, but then as noted, my record in liking steam punk is that I generally don't. So...only 2 stars.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Scott Marlowe huh. This one keeps popping up, too, and I thought I might give it a try. I might rethink that, or at least move it down the list.


Mike (the Paladin) I'd say it sort of depends on you and your taste. I expected to find it interesting...but then as I said in the review, I've not found a steam punk I really enjoyed.


Pickle Ive not read a steampunk novel ive not enjoyed and it was the same again with this. I thought the plot was a bit obvious but it was a very easy read, i enjoyed the characters and would read Mark Hodder's other novel if i get the chance.


Brad I am middling on my enjoyment of Steampunk, so I am no longer expecting good things, only mediocre things, which may help me like it more. We shall see.


Mick You've managed to pinpoint most of what I didn't care for in this book. I'm a huge fan of Burton and liked the story best when the focus was his POV. When it started shifting to include Swinwburn's and the villans' POVs it lost something.

Before you give up on steampunk entirely try Phoenix Rising by Phillipa Ballentine and Tee Morris. It's fast and fun, doesn't take itself too seriously and still manages to tell a good story. The ebooks are currently going for $.99 at the various outlets.


Mike (the Paladin) I still haven't joined the Ebook revolution. I'll look around and see if I can run it down in another edition. So far I've tried a few and can't think of one I've really liked...but I'll try to keep an open mind. Like I said, the ideas often sound good.


Mick The authors of this one are big sci-fi/fantasy fans and have more than one very well done nod to the genre in the story. There's even a "blink and you'll miss it" Firefly reference that's not the least bit out of place.

Phoenix Rising pays very little attention to romance between the two main characters, Agents Books and Braun. It gives a surprisingly well balanced account of the case, the "tech", the society in which they live and of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, which employes the agents.

The male agent (Books) is an Archivist who is pulled out of his basement hidey-hole and forced to interact with the Field Agents (when he just want's to stay in and read! LOL!) He's actually a very interesting character because there seems to be more to him than is revealed in the first book.

Phoenix Rising is the first steampunk book I've read in a very long time that I want to reread.


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