THE RETURN OF THE DISCONTINUED MAN by Mark Hodder

THE RETURN OF THE DISCONTINUED MAN

KIRKUS REVIEW

Fifth in Hodder’s steampunk series (The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi, 2013, etc.) starring Victorian explorer/translator Sir Richard Burton and his improbable sidekick, the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne.

Series regulars will acknowledge that the books don't stand alone. So, recall that everything began with the assassination of Queen Victoria by Edward Oxford, an insane time traveler from the 23rd century. This resulted in an alternate history in which scientist Charles Babbage and engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel spurred an industrial revolution that led to a devastating world war in the future of every timeline. Babbage, Brunel (now resident in a bizarre robot body), Burton and Swinburne have been searching desperately for a way to avert the war. This time, at precisely 9 p.m. on Feb. 15, 1860, as Babbage performs a critical experiment on the time traveler’s suit recovered in a previous episode, red snow falls over London as Burton and Swinburne make their way to a meeting of the Cannibal Club, and Spring Heeled Jack appears out of thin air, shrieking insanely and attacking Burton. Soon, dozens more Jacks, all dangerously demented, appear in locations where Burton is likely to be found. Burton, meanwhile, resorts to Saltzman’s tincture, a decoction that brings him bewildering visions of parallel realities and futures yet to be—including one where Burton finds himself in the 23rd century, occupying the brain and body of the decidedly sane genius known as Edward Oxford! Alert readers will note that Hodder’s time-travel rationale buckles under the pressure of the plot’s requirements, but it doesn’t matter: There’s more than enough adventure, intrigue, invention, fun and engagement to satisfy everybody—at least, those with some idea of what to expect.

Series addict? Go right ahead. You know you want to.

Pub Date: July 8th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61614-905-5
Page count: 370pp
Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2014




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