The story moved quickly and kept my interest. The plot was often a real problem.
Try to limit the number of themes in the story. Concentrate on developing better female characters.
Gerard Doyle was excellent! His attention to accents and differentiating the characters kept Victorian Britain in my mind while I listened.
My first exposure to the Steam-punk genre was "The Difference Engine". It was a good combination of science fiction and alternate history. I've wanted to sample similar story lines and "The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man" is one foray.
I found myself liking the story in spite of itself. The pace moves quickly and the narration is excellent, really the most enjoyable part of the experience. The worst part, sorry to say, is the plot. It's a mash-up of fantasy, very little science in the fiction, and lurid horror with a cast of characters from history that bear little resemblance to the actual people of the same names. If you are in any way a skeptic of woo-woo metaphysics, be prepared to sit down with a stiff brandy before diving into this tale. Having said that, the writing and narration were good enough that I forced myself several times to suspend disbelief and just go along for the ride. And a good ride it is!
The story begins in the fractured time line caused in the first book after a traveler from the future disrupts not only history, but quite evidently the natural laws of the universe. Charles Darwin, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Babbage and a host of other Victorian science and engineering greats are recast as ambitious mad scientists. The results we see in "The Clockwork Man" is science and technology run amok with the paranormal soon to follow. Soon we discover that mesmerism really works, psychics and mediums become evil wizards and witches, magic crystals cause mayhem and an evil spell turns rioters first into cannibals and then into zombies!
The main characters of Burton and Swinburne are well developed as are many of the secondary actors. There are no well developed female characters, which is a shame given the number of places in the story where they could have been. Except for Madame Blavatsy, a self-promoting medium and fraud in real life who plays the part of the wicked witch in this story, none of the other women have anything other than supporting roles.
I did enjoy the story in spite of its shortcomings. If you enjoy steam-punk and fantasy, you will probably like it also.
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