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The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

(Burton & Swinburne #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  6,635 ratings  ·  878 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
Paperback, 511 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Snowbooks (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  6,635 ratings  ·  878 reviews

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Start your review of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne, #1)
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
David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party
"Book, you have the right to a speedy trial" review

- 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!

- Not enough
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 ...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,
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
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
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
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 ...more
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 ...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.

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
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
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,
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.
Feb 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, read-2011
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
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.
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
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
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,
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)
Two stars means it was okay, and three stars means I liked it, so call it a 2 or a 2. 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 ...more
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.
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
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
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
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
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Zoe Carney
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
I can't decide what my biggest problem with this book was - the fridging of Queen Victoria? The reduction of every other female character to either a victim, a 'bitch', or a 2-dimensional mother figure? Perhaps it was the lacklustre dialogue or the plodding prose? Or maybe the random dropping in of actual historical figures for no apparent reason other than to look smart?

Maybe it's not this author's fault - I've just grown weary of women in fiction rarely being allowed to be individuals rather
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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

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)
“Indeed. I have often thought that when a man selects one word over another he often reveals far more of himself than he intended.” 21 likes
“Here lies the body of Colonel Cornell’s. The rest of the fellow, I fancy, in hell is.” 7 likes
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