The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack

The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack

by Mark Hodder


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It is 1861, and Albertian Britain is in the grip of conflicting forces. Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labour; Libertines oppose restrictive and unjust laws and flood the country with propaganda demanding a society based on beauty and creativity; while The Rakes push the boundaries of human behaviour to the limits with magic, sexuality, drugs and anarchy.
Returning from his failed expedition to find the source of the Nile, explorer, linguist, scholar and swordsman Sir Richard Francis Burton finds himself sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum when the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, employs him as 'King's Spy'.
His first mission: to investigate the sexual assaults committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack; to find out why chimney sweeps are being kidnapped by half-man, half-dog creatures; and to discover the whereabouts of his badly injured former friend, John Hanning Speke. Accompanied by the diminutive and pain-loving poet, Algernon Swinburne, Burton's investigations lead him back to one of the defining events of the age: the brutal assassination of Queen Victoria in 1840; and the terrifying possibility that the world he inhabits shouldn't exist at all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781906727505
Publisher: Snowbooks Ltd
Publication date: 04/05/2010
Pages: 492
Sales rank: 906,005
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.06(d)

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The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 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 14 days ago
joenba7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wanting to try something new, a colleague of mine recommended this book, defining it as steampunk. First time reading that type of book, and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. The amount of steampunk in the book isn't that great, and I found myself struggling with 2/3 of the book. At that point things became interesting, but struggling through the first 2/3 was a nightmare. I enjoyed the last part, more interested in the story of Spring-Heeled Jack, rather than Sir Richard Burton.All in all, a well written book, but for a fantasy-person such as me, simply not interesting enough.
RandyStafford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿With blood and with iron, shall a nation be moulded.¿ And what blood and what iron! Hodder doesn¿t exactly give us a steampunk world. There are too many biological grotesqueries like swans big enough to carry men into deepest Africa, huge dray horses, greyhounds who deliver messages to every memorized address in London, and parakeets who deliver voice messages ¿ liberally laced with insults and profanity. Mendel¿s work, in this world, was not ¿lost¿ and men like Darwin and Francis Galton have plenty of ideas about using the new science. This is no Victorian Age of freakish steam powered machines (though there are plenty, here). Indeed, Hodder gets rid of Queen Victoria in 1840.Technically, that sort of makes this an alternate history, but Hodder cheerfully does such violence to history and the many historical personages he has here ¿ not to mention throwing in werewolves and the bizarre legend of Spring Heeled Jack ¿ that it feels very different.Explorer Richard Burton and poet Algernon Swinburne, author of the above quote, make a good duo of investigators for King Albert. Swinburne, with his small stature and masochistic tendencies, provides a lot of comic relief. Burton, after an early encounter with Spring Heeled Jack, realizes that his life could take an alternate path and that provides a quite satisfying scene towards the end of the book.Burton paces his novel very well, wraps up all the plot ends. While this may be the first of a trilogy ¿ which gets more complicated as it goes, this book is pretty self-contained.Definitely recommended for steampunk fans or those interested in the Fortean figure of Spring Heeled Jack.
justifiedsinner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not bad for a first novel. Derivative. The characters and the milieu are rather cartoonish. Surprising that it won the PKD.
bluewoad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From raygunreviews.wordpress.comIt¿s London, 1861. Sir Richard Burton, the explorer, is about to debate his former partner, John Speke, over the location of the Nile¿s source, but word quickly comes that Speke has suffered from a gun shot wound that has left him at death¿s door (but not quite dead). However, he soon disappears from the hospital.Burton is soon thereafter hired on as a secret agent to His Majesty, King Albert, to take on cases that require someone of his abilities. He is given two cases to start with: look into reports of wolf-like men in London¿s seedier districts, and try to discover the truth behind stories of bogeyman Spring-Heeled Jack, who has recently reappeared in London, years after his initial appearances during the assassination of Queen Victoria.Things, of course, are never as simple as they seem, and Burton takes poet and friend Algernon Swinburne under his wing to help him sort out what is happening in this strange, steampunk alternative to the Victorian Age.I¿m a bit of a Victorian-era junkie, so I¿ve welcomed the recent fad of steampunk books that combine the Victorian with SF/F. There are many aspects of the Victorian era that I enjoy, but more than others, the story of Burton and Speke has fascinated me ever since I saw the film ¿Mountains of the Moon.¿ So when I received a review copy of The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack and read the back blurb ¿ steampunk! Burton! Spekes! ¿ I was hooked. What more could I ask for?But did the book hold up to my expectations? Yes, and no. It starts out very, very strong, pulling the reader in from the first page. To readers familiar with Victorian history, things almost immediately don¿t sit right. (Speke died in 1864, not 1861.) But Hodder quickly brings in the fantastic to alert the reader that something is wrong: this is not the expected Victorian Age. But exactly what has gone wrong is only gradually and slowly revealed. As he unravels what went wrong, Hodder builds a captivating character in Sir Richard Burton.However, the book starts to collapse in the second half when Hodder¿s narrative shifts from a focus on Burton, to explaining the background of Spring-Heeled Jack. Instead of working the explanations into the main narrative thread, Hodder chooses to weave a new thread. Unfortunately, the central character in the history of Spring-Heeled Jack is nowhere as captivating as Burton ¿ quite despicable, actually ¿ and so the reader¿s attention flags. The last quarter of the book returns the narrative to Burton, but the damage has been done and the forward movement just can¿t be recovered.As a first effort, The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack is mostly well done, although flawed in places. It¿s a strong start to what looks like is the first novel in a series of espionage/mystery/thriller adventure tales. I look forward to more to come.
lauriebrown54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As the long title suggests, Sir Richard Francis Burton and Algernon Swinburne, real Victorians, are the lead characters in this novel that is at once mystery, fantasy, alt history and steampunk. And possibly a few other things, too. It includes not just not just real people Burton and Swinburne, but also Darwin, Galton, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale and Oscar Wilde, among others. Add airships (but not, alas, dirigibles), flying arm chairs, foul mouthed parakeets that act as messengers, letter carrying dogs that eat constantly, spontaneously combustible wolves, pneumatic railways and the rather adorable broomcats -the only genetically modified critter that didn¿t end up with a rather gross side effect. The novel gets off to a rather slow start- I almost gave up on it during Burton¿s backstory. I¿m glad I didn¿t, though, because it soon evolved into nonstop action. So much action, and so many characters, in fact, that at times I had to stop and think back for a moment before going on. It¿s a fine adventure, and a grand example of the time traveler¿s paradox. And in the middle of all this action and fantasy, the author gives us characters that really work. One character goes from villain (there are multiple villains in this book, so I¿m not giving anything away) to example of pathos. And he¿s not the only character to change- I¿m not sure any of the main players escape change or growth. I recommend this book, even if I can¿t quite figure out what to call it.
Denise701 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading the book this afternoon, and I think I'm interested in the character of Sir Richard Burton enough that I might check out the second book. A couple of days when I was half-way through it, I wondered whether I wanted to finish it. I just didn't see where it was going, and the character of Swinburne annoyed me so much that the author just about lost me. When I got to the true story of Spring-Heeled Jack (no big surprise that this is a time-travel story), my interest picked up again, so I pushed on to finish it. Having finished it, I felt like I accomplished something just to have gotten through it, which I think I should not feel. I'm not sitting here saying to myself, "I can hardly wait to get my hands on The Clockwork Man!" It's more like, "Maybe later I'll check out The Clockwork Man."I really think the book could have been tightened up to keep the action going from beginning to end. The book gets off to a slow start in part, I think, because of the choice of main character. By choosing a somewhat peripheral character like Burton as the hero, the author needed to educate a reading public who may know little or nothing about the real Burton. And I also felt sidetrack by the the time spent on Burton's engagement. There were ways to ignore or rewrite the real Burton's connection to Isabel Arundell if she wasn't going to be important in the book. The only thing I can think is that the author means to re-introduce her in a future book (Lady Isabel Arundell, Adventurer!).
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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