The alternate Victorian London of Hodder's latest fantasy is stuffed with eccentricities: each fascinating in itself, but adding up eventually to a slightly stultifying overabundance (not to mention Hodder's tendency toward painful puns, like the "Folk's Wagon" made out of an actual Beetle). Mercifully these fade into the background as the plot kicks into high gear with explorer Richard Burton and his sidekick, masochistic poet Swinburne, sleuth out the truth behind a bewildering conspiracy of rakes, technologists, psychics, black diamonds, time travelers, and a butcher claiming to be an aristocrat. The investigation also leads the protagonists to different countries. Hodder handles these cross-cultural encounters surprisingly well. Furthermore, the overarching theme of being stuck down a wrong turn in history adds a touch of atmosphere both ominous and bittersweet. Ultimately though, the many characters, places, plot twists and turns fail to work together to keep the reader's attention. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2011 Release date: 03/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
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