Snowbooks Ltd: paperback published 2008: 350 pages
Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution.
Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by new inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, whilst ground trains rumble through the streets, and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen and journalists. But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side. For this is also a world where ghostly policemen haunt the fog-laden alleyways of Whitechapel, where cadavers can rise from the dead and where Sir Maurice Newbury, Gentleman Investigator for the Crown, works tirelessly to protect the Empire from her foes.
When an airship crashes in mysterious circumstances, Sir Maurice and his recently appointed assistant, Miss Veronica Hobbes are called in to investigate. Meanwhile, Scotland Yard is baffled by a spate of grisly murders and a terrifying plague is ravaging the slums of the city.
So begins an adventure quite unlike any other, a thrilling steampunk mystery and the first in the series of Newbury & Hobbes investigations.
There’s steampunk and then there’s steampunk. This is the latter steampunk. Put Johnny Depp (with moustache) from From Hell with Jessica Biel in Victorian garb, into a Conan Doyle-esque London, stir in airships and clockwork people straight out of Return to Oz (except maybe skinnier), and you have your setting. Now notch it up with zombies, a glowing dead policeman, a crazy (French) scientist, and some rather gruesome murders, and you get George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge. You also get some insight to the inner workings of my brain (apparently, and which are also apparently deeply disturbing, thank you D). If I ever decided to write steampunk, I’d want to write it just like George Mann. It’s got everything you would need for a good story, and what’s best of all, is that it’s entirely believable… and by entirely, I mean it’s believable if you suspend disbelief because Victorian London didn’t really have ground trains running around its streets, but you know what I mean. Love, love, love… and H (who lent me her copy) has just informed me that there are two more books to follow.
Next Book: Carlos Ruiz Záfon wrote one of my favourite books of all time, The Shadow of the Wind. The Barcelona-born writer has written loads of books, from young adult to Shadow which is a mystery wrapped in history wrapped in magic. His writing is so poetic and beautiful, even in translation. I have read all his works, apart from one. The Midnight Palace might be a young adult book, but this is next on the list.