I stumbled across this book in a pound shop. The front cover highlights that the author was a winner of the Philip K. Dick award. Might be a cheap hidden gem, I thought. Wrong!
Don’t judge a book by its cover, but perhaps you may be able to make some useful assumptions based on the establishment that is stocking it.
The cover and the hyperbole on the back suggested a steampunk novel. The initial tale of a rather weak Victorian country vicar, named Aiden Fleischer, seemed reasonably interesting. Fliescher takes pity on Clarissa Stark, a lady whose body has been badly damaged in an accident leaving her in constant pain with twisted limbs. Ms Stark wears very dark, leather bound goggles – one of the few nods to steampunk in the novel.
Fleischer’s fondness for a local young lady, leads to him being blackmailed. He decides to flee by becoming a missionary and travels with Stark to a remote tropical island. Whilst on the island, Fleischer and Stark fall through an apparent rip in ‘space-time’ to another planet. I really should have stopped reading there but I carried on like a fool.
Life is too short to go into too much details but the remainder of the book was filled with some painfully melodramatic and cringeworthy dialogue, aliens with crazy names and a very tenuous grip on understanding their own life-cycle and improbable triple-stage metamorphosis.
Fleischer undergoes an amazing transformation from a craven man of the cloth to a muscle-bound sword-wielding agnostic warrior. If this book were ever to be filmed (saints preserve us!) this section would be a montage.
Somehow references to Jack the Ripper are shoehorned into the book, I suspect to remind the reader that it’s set in the Victorian era.
This being nominally steampunk, there is, of course, an airship.
The plot was needlessly convoluted and when the resolution came I scarcely cared. My eyes and brain felt tortured by the horror of this ludicrous shambles.
As a final twis of the knife, the final chapter manages to shunt in a time-lapse, the Second World War and the Bermuda Triangle. This just left me feeling angry and insulted.
I have read this book so you never have to.