The sixth and final book in Hodder’s Burton and Swinburne steampunk series (after The Return of the Discontinued Man) fills out the stories built up in the previous titles and provides a fitting and fiery conclusion. Sir Richard Burton and poet Algernon Swinburne are snatched at the moment of their deaths and brought to 1861 London, where the time-traveling ship Orpheus (which carried them into the future in their last adventure) is just returning. The confusion leads to uncharacteristic stumbles from Burton, resulting in the transfer of human consciousness into mechanized men. Comic absurdity blends with bone-cracking brutality as clockwork servants turn on their creators, their ruthlessness accompanied by excruciating politeness. A twisted variation of Benjamin Disraeli’s Young England reduces Victorian-era London to the dystopian wretchedness that Burton and Swinburne previously averted. This luridly realized vision of brutality, and Burton’s corresponding descent into despondency, add a layer of gloom. But Swinburne’s yelping, twitching buoyancy is a surprisingly effective tonic and a reminder of why the pairing of these two mismatched figures has been such a success. Agent: Eddie Schneider, JABberwocky. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/18/2015 Release date: 08/11/2015 Genre: Fiction
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