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The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

(Burton & Swinburne #1)

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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  6,744 ratings  ·  892 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 2010)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  6,744 ratings  ·  892 reviews


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Stephen
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
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David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party
"Book, you have the right to a speedy trial" review

THE DEFENSE
- A brilliant reimagining of several historical figures.
- Loved how philosophical themes like "technology vs. humanity" and "propriety vs. freedom" were explored.
- Exemplary world-building and atmosphere throughout.
- Author succeeds where so many other sci-fi writers have failed, he manages to explore alternate timelines without being confusing at all!
- Swinburne is especially entertaining!

THE PROSECUTION
- Not enou
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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
Brad
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
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YouKneeK
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is the first book in a steampunk series called “Burton & Swinburne”. This was a crazy, fun book. It’s kinda sorta set in the Victorian era and features many historical figures who are misused to serve the author’s evil purposes. I could imagine this book would surely drive some people crazy, but I really enjoyed it even while recognizing it has some flaws.

The main characters, Burton and Swinburne, are two of the aforementioned real people from history. Th
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David
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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Kaitlin
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-sff-faves
This book was brilliant and one of the best books I have picked up in a while because of how vastly different it was, and yet thoroughly engrossing. I tend to read a lot of Epic or High Fantasy which is what I love to read, but this rings more as an adventure, Victorian-era fiction, Steampunk Fantasy and Sci-fi story all rolled into one. You may think that sounds like an awful lot of stuff, and it is, but it works!

Having never heard of or read anything by Hodder prior to this I went into this wi
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Sarah
I had to create a number of shelves to accommodate this wacky novel. It's primarily a Steampunk Victorian Detective Novel and then you add all of these other elements in. Rogue geneticists, time travel, the assassination of Queen Victoria, a mad Marquess (very Victorian), a timeline that goes increasingly awry, and my favorite bit, part swashbuckling adventure. I swear this book made me want to whip out a rapier and dance around like a mad lunatic. Which is what I would look like if I tried swor ...more
Mike
A really good steampunk-slash-alternate-history book, with an entertaining and plausible origin embedded in the story and some great characters. I'm going to refer folks over to friend David's review here, as his 5-star review captures most all of my feelings for this book.

My additional thoughts:
- I was not quite as taken with Swineburne as he was -- there was just enough of the Algy character for me.
- There was no logical reason for Quips to exist as he did in this story, which the author bas
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aPriL does feral sometimes
‘The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack’ is a madcap movie, basically, and entertaining, but without the inventions this is a three-star read, really. But if you unpack the novel, the entire story is a Rube Goldberg machine. I liked but not loved. I've given four stars because the author Mark Hodder was clever by throwing in real inventions from the mid-1880's and the plot posed some interesting dilemmas which occurred from time traveling. I had the most fun Googling the inventions and studyin ...more
Mpauli
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.

A
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Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
I love this rollicking British steampunk alt-history period action/mystery/spec fic novel. This was my second time reading it and I am pleased to report that it was just as thrilling as I remembered from the less-dicerning me of ten years ago. Mark Hodder has created (or repurposed) an intriguing pulp hero worthy of his literary ancestors, the swarthy, scarred, well-travelled, fierce-faced, mesmeric, king's agent Richard Burton. The book is very British, very modern (despite it's 1860's setting) ...more
Liviu
May 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Eric
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
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Jack +Books & Bourbon+
We are all told to not judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what first put this exciting novel into my hands. With the antique-styled gold accents and decidely dangerous looking villain on the front, it practically screamed "read me!" And read it I did, finding it more and more difficult to put down as the story progressed.

Mark Hodder has taken several distinct genres (Steampunk, alternate history, science fiction, time-travel, and plain old action & adventure) and combined them, along
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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.
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Jason
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2011, e-books
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
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Nick Imrie
A mostly enjoyable adventure story. The hero is an admirable square-jawed fellow, who punches a satisfying number of bad guys. It's that sort of book. His poet side-kick is plucky but flakey. His girlfriend is quickly dispatched in the early chapters - despite the large number of dresses that are ripped open in the course of the story, it is not a kissing book.

I highly recommend it to any precocious 9 year old boys you might know.

Otherwise, it is not very memorable and shares a great deal with o
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Jasmine
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
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.
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Christine
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 only 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 trave
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Nikki
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,
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Princessjay
Jun 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
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)
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retroj
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
Karl
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read July 1 to July 5 2010. The first adventure of Sir Richard Francis Burton and Algernon Charles Swinburne. Lots of fun.
Hank
Feb 18, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was outrageous! It is hard to even describe the madness that went on. Alt-history, steampunk, sci-fi, lunacy. I both appreciated and did not appreciate knowing nothing about the book before starting. The beginning was rough to say the least, the writing is the worst part about the novel and since the story had not started I almost gave up in the first 40 pages.

From human-animal hybrids, mechanical, centipede like trash collectors, (view spoiler), and James B
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Lea
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lea by: Stephen
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
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Andy
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 writing & characte
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Paul
Nov 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
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
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British writer living in Valencia, Spain.

Becoming the father of twins really slowed my writing down for three years. However, I'm happy to report that it's now returning to its former pace ... high time I got something new into the bookshops. I'm currently working on the final edit of a new SF novel which is the first in what I hope will be a massive new series.

To find out more about it, read a p
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Other books in the series

Burton & Swinburne (6 books)
  • 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)
  • The Return of the Discontinued Man (Burton & Swinburne, #5)
  • The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats (Burton & Swinburne, #6)

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