I admit, I’m not a reader of steam punk. My Neovictorian nature seeks out books like A.S. Byatt’s Possession or Will Self’s Dorian: An Imitation. I love fantasy novels but the fantasy I’ve read is always set in a medieval setting. So when I picked up Mark Hodder’s The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, I was confused.
I was attracted to the book because the central characters were Sir Richard Burton and A.C. Swinburne – great! It sounded like a Sherlock Holmes mystery so I was fascinated and could not wait to start.
Then, confusion set it. The steam punk world of Hodder’s 1860s London is very different from the one I knew. Men riding Swans to African Expeditions. An assassinated Queen Victoria. A Swinburne openly discussing his sadomasochistic desires in public places. Mechanical buses made out of bio-engineered caterpillars. What was going on? I was lost.
Then, I remembered that it’s a mystery. I was not supposed to understand what was going on entirely. Halfway through I realised that I needed to just sit back and enjoy the comic characters. A pre-teen Oscar Wilde is a paperboy! Herbert Spencer is a servant and eventually a mechanical creature. Gladstone shows up. Once you let go of reality (a difficult task for any Victorianist) this is a fun adventurous novel that I recommend to anyone with particular interests in mystery.
A final note: sorry to have been missing this week. A very busy week of work. I am still here and still loving this space. I have had visitors from about twenty different countries now and a few comments. I would like to here from you if you have something that should be added to the page, removed (I never mean to offend or to take advantage. Case in point: the link above is to the amazon page where you can buy Hodder’s novel)). I’m just curious and would love to hear from other curious people.