The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

4.1 27
by Mark Hodder
     
 

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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! Their investigations lead them to one of the defining events of the…  See more details below

Overview

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! Their investigations lead them to one of the defining events of the age, and the terrifying possibility that the world they inhabit shouldn't exist at all!

Editorial Reviews

Michael Dirda
…if you're looking for a cold night's entertainment, this high-spirited mix of fact and fancy will do quite nicely, quite nicely indeed.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
A historical figure already larger than life, Capt. Sir Richard Francis Burton, pursues a legendary and violent Victorian creature, Spring Heeled Jack, at the behest of the prime minister in this convincingly researched debut. Fans of steampunk will be intrigued by the alternate history setting, in which the queen dies mid-century; they will also enjoy following Burton and his sidekick, poet Algernon Swinburne, as they investigate the dark secrets of 19th-century England and recall Burton's legendary expedition to find the source of the Nile. Burton is an intriguing character, but the story might have benefited by more than token appearances of his intrepid fiancée, Isabel Arundell, and better integration of the fantastical elements--werewolves, time travelers--into the narrative before a wild ending that pulls everything together. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Praise for the Philip K. Dick Award-winning Burton & Swinburne books:

"The usual superlatives for really clever fantasy (imaginative, mind-bending, phantasmagorical) aren't nearly big enough for this debut novel. With this one book, Hodder has put himself on the genre map."
-Booklist, starred review of The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack

"Hodder, with an encyclopedic grasp of period detail, tellingly brings these disparate, oddly familiar yet eerily different worlds to fecund life. Enthralling, dizzying, and as impressive as they come."
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Every once in a while I come across a book, or series of books, that totally yanks the carpet out from under me. Then it reaches out, smashes me in the face with its awesomeness, and says, 'You love me!' Leaving me with naught to do but obligingly respond, 'Yes. Yes I do.' [The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man] was every bit the book that I had hoped it would be."
-Elitist Book Reviews

"Whatever one chooses to call [The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack], it would be very difficult to deny its overwhelming brilliance. I can't remember the last time a novel has surprised, awed, and enthused me so utterly that I'm almost left at a loss for words for how to recommend it."
-Rob Will Review

Library Journal
London in the middle of the 19th century suffers from a plague of dog-faced men, thought by some to be werewolves; in addition, a strange apparition bearing a resemblance to the horrific mythical creature known as Spring-Heeled Jack rampages through the city, savagely attacking young women. Lord Palmerston commissions the famous adventurer Sir Richard Burton as a special agent to investigate these occurrences, and Burton acquires the assistance of the notoriously decadent poet and libertine Algernon Charles Swinburne. Together, the mismatched pair traverses the streets of a city filled with mechanical splendors, genetically engineered animals, and unspeakable squalor. Their investigations lead them to the suspicion that they are living in a nonexistent time. VERDICT Hodder's first novel delivers an exquisitely fleshed-out blend of steam-punk and gothic horror that should have broad appeal.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616142902
Publisher:
Prometheus Books
Publication date:
09/15/2010
Series:
A Burton & Swinburne Adventure , #1
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
157,881
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Booklist
"The usual superlatives for really clever fantasy (imaginative, mind-bending, phantasmagorical) aren't nearly big enough for this debut novel. With this one book, Hodder has put himself on the genre map....incredibly ambitious, and the author pulls it off like an old pro: not only is the setting exciting and fresh, the story is thrilling and full of surprises. Hodder's only problem now is to find a way to follow up this exhilarating debut, which will appeal not only to sf/fantasy readers but also to mystery and historical-fiction fans." --(David Pitt )
robwillreview.com
"When is the last time you've been so thoroughly delighted by a book that the moment you finished reading it, you weren't quite sure what you wanted to do more: quickly phone, e-mail, or text every friend, relative, and passing acquaintance whose contact information you can reach, gleefully tripping over yourself with excitement while explaining to them why they must run to the store and get a copy to read this very moment, because ordering from the internet would just take too long...?" -- Rob Will
astroguyz.com
"takes the genre to a new level...Would-be Steampunk writers will now have to work double duty to top this one!" --Astro Guyz

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Meet the Author

Mark Hodder is the author of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack-winner of the Philip K. Dick Award 2010-and its sequel, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man. He's the creator and caretaker of the Blakiana website (http://www.sextonblake.co.uk), 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 in London for most of his working life until 2008, when he relocated to Valencia in Spain to de-stress and write novels. He has a degree in cultural studies and loves British history (1850 to 1950, in particular), good food, cutting-edge gadgets, cult TV (ITC forever!), Tom Waits, and a vast assortment of oddities.

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The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
UncleHammy More than 1 year ago
The Curious Case of Spring Heeled Jack is a fun read, very well written and researched. Not knowing the Spring Heeled Jack legend I was completely confused at the beginning of the book, but Mr. Hodder does a great job of stringing the reader along until things start to become clear. The author does a masterful job of weaving the events in such a way to make them seem confused and random until nearly 3/4 of the way through the book, at which point he begins to let the story unravel and ties up all the loose ends, well almost all of them, he has to leave room for sequels. Overall a well written and very enjoyable mystery novel.
J3v0n More than 1 year ago
Not Everyone is Gonna Like It The premise of this title is an interesting one: Sir Burton is hired by Buckingham Palace to investigate the mysterious figure, Spring Heeled Jack who's actually a time-traveler that messed up big time which caused Victorian England to become steampunk England. The highlight for me was the tragic character of Spring Heeled Jack and his journey through time and all the fascinating paradoxes that comes with time travel. Everything else was a bit lack luster. The author goes into overkill detail of each invention or London's layout. This book will appeal to die hard fans of Steampunk fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I came across this book because I was interested in fictional uses of the historical figure Richard F. Burton. I also enjoy time travel fiction to a certain extent. The combination of two of my interests made this a great read. The imagination displayed by the author went well beyond what was needed but the book is better for it. No sense stopping at the improbable or surreal when the absurd is within reach. Hodder's knowledge of Victorian London is excellent and he made his vision of London even more interesting and remarkable than the real city. It's a place I'd like to see more of as well as other parts of the world in this alternate history. My only niggle is that like other authors (William Harrison, Philip Jose Farmer, Iliya Troyanov, Win Blevins, etc) who've used Burton in a prose setting he becomes more an idealized heroic verson of the authors themselves than a strict historical portrayal. Still I can't wait for the next one.
harstan More than 1 year ago
By 1861, Britain is radically changing due to technology; enhanced by the eugenicists creating specialized beasts to do the labor. Four groups emerge to challenge the power structure. The Libertines demand no laws insisting government impedes creativity; the Rakes agree with no government interference as they are anarchists demanding the use of magic fueled by sex and drugs to create a super human, the Engineers use technology to transform the world into a marvelously polluted realm in their image; and finally the Eugenicists create specialized beasts of burden. British Prime Minister Lord Pamerston hires Sir Richard Burton, just back from the Nile expedition, to serve as the "King's Spy". His first investigation is to look into the reported sexual assaults by an apparent apparition Spring-Heeled Jack. At the same time Algernon Charles Swinbourne is doing an inquiry of his own. Meanwhile apparently hybrid canine-humans are kidnapping chimney sweeps while terrorizing the East End. Richard also plans to learn what happened to his injured former friend, John Speke, who vanished. This is a fascinating tongue in cheek alternate historical thriller that grips the reader throughout. The story line pays homage to Dickens and Wells in a setting in which the moral fiber that kept the sun from setting on the Empire is waning from the extremes demanding the establishment of their Eden regardless of the cost to others. As the threads converge into a great twist, readers will want to join Burton and Swinbourne discovering the truth of Mark Hodder's Victorian England. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, I cannot give this book even one star due to the author's latest post on facebook. No, it has nothing to do with the quality of the book but I cannot support anyone who feels this way. ******************* Cards on table. Time for a cull. If you are religious and can't keep it to yourself, then I ask that you de-friend me right now. Fact is, I regard you as a threat to my children. I intend to teach them that faith in god is stupid, harmful and dangerous. I intend to teach them to take active responsibility for themselves, for their environment, and for those around them. I intend to teach them love, respect, ethics and morals and shall do so without the aid of hateful books that are filled with spite, gender and racial discrimination, vengeance, and cruelty. If you choose to follow a religion, then I extend to you that right, but you need to know that I have no respect for you, I pity you, I fear you, I scorn you, I want to avoid you, and I am NOT your Facebook friend. You can unfriend me via the little downward pointing arrow on the upper right of this status update.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing twist on people who really did exist in history and a legend that few people outside of the British Isles have ever heard about...Spring Healed Jack. It starts out slow as the book sets up the back ground of these explorers and then explodes into a fast moving story of how The Spring Heeled Jack came into the world and why, and what he may have done to time. The whole story line is a unique take on real history, people, and places all wrapped into a fast moving steampunk story. At the end of the book are brief biographies of the people and places in the book. Which sent me looking for more about the poet, the explorers, and history in which this story is set. It has been a long while since I found a book that entertained and taught at the same time. A great read.
his_wayward_child More than 1 year ago
I am only halfway through reading this book and it has yet to let me down. The characters are quite unique and I can't wait to see how it ends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truely recommend this to anyone who is big into syfy. I dont eant to reveal the story but it is a good brain twister and can cause you to image whats haooeing as you read
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RegisM More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed with this. The premise and the characters sounded interesting, but the story couldn't seem to live up to expectations. I do like the characterization of Richard F. Burton, and I could see how he might grow on a reader as a lead in a series. And although Swineburne, as a Libertine and follower of de Sade, may have been intended as the more interesting character, I found him tiring and, surprisingly, flat. It is an imaginative story, and I did develop some sympathy for the title character, but this one just didn't do it for me. I am a fan of historical science fiction and time travel, and expected to really enjoy this, but I can't strongly recommend it. Maybe I'm just still too much in love with Felix Palma's superb The Map of Time and am (unfairly) comparing everything else to it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mark Hodder's first Burton and Swineburne is an ingenious blending of history, victorian folklore and crazy gonzo streampunk wildness. His London and his greater world is a place much changed by a minor tweek in history and he proples it with wonderfully flawed and brillantly human characters both big and small in many ways. His use of the explorer and former british soldier Sir Richard Francis Burton and masochistic poet Algernon Swineburne as agents of the King begs readers or at least it had me looking up the real men and situations that inperiled thrm in the novel. Fans of steampunk, pulp adventure, alternatr history and the works of Bernard Cornwall.
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Read and enjoy this set of three books. When done consider reading Between Man and Beast. There are tie ins.
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