The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It is 1901 in Victorian London. Queen Victoria is being kept alive by an elaborate mechanical breathing device. She employs Sir Maurice Newberry, an anthropologist at the British Museum with a penchant for the occult, as a secret investigator. Victoria Hobbes is his new assistant, an intelligent, resourceful partner for the work Sir Maurice does. This London has steam-powered taxis, airships, and automatons, as well as a mysterious disease turning folk in the poorer sections of the city into zombie-like revenants, a glowing blue policeman who may be a ghost, automatons going beserk, a possible mad scientist, and a missing man. Sir Maurice and Miss Hobbes must figure out if any- or all- of the above are related and solve the various mysteries before more people end up missing or dead.
It’s not a bad book, not really. It is a little slow, with a lot of talking (over cups of Earl Grey tea, mostly), although where there is action, it is fast-paced and exciting, if a little exxagerated. Characters are rounded and interesting, for the most part. Sir Maurice comes across a bit stiff at times. He does have a laudanum addiction which adds a measure of weakness and vulenrability, things that are nice to see in a main character. The mystery moves along quite nicely until near the end where there are a couple things that seemed just a bit too convenient. The writing style was rather stilted, trying a little too hard to evoke a Victorian ambiance.
This was not the best Victorian era steampunk story I have read, but it is certainly not one I would say don’t read. There are some clever ideas here, and if it is a bit stiff at times, it’s not a difficult read, and was entertaining.
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