The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (#1)

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It is 1861, and Albertian Britain is in the grip of conflicting forces. Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labour; Libertines oppose restrictive and unjust laws and flood the country with propaganda demanding a society based on beauty and creativity; while The Rakes push the boundaries of human behaviour to the limits with magic, sexuality, drugs and anarchy.

Returning from his failed expedition to find the source of the Nile, explorer, linguist, scholar and swordsman Sir Richard Francis Burton finds himself sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum when the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, employs him as ‘King’s Spy’. His first mission: to investigate the sexual assaults committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack; to find out why chimney sweeps are being kidnapped by half-man, half-dog creatures; and to discover the whereabouts of his badly injured former friend, John Hanning Speke.

Accompanied by the diminutive and pain-loving poet, Algernon Swinburne, Burton’s investigations lead him back to one of the defining events of the age: the brutal assassination of Queen Victoria in 1840; and the terrifying possibility that the world he inhabits shouldn’t exist at all.

Reviews

“If you’re looking for a cold night’s entertainment, this high-spirited mix of fact and fancy will do quite nicely, quite nicely indeed.”

The Washington Post

“Remarkable [...] A rollicking ride through the underbelly of the steampunk world.”

Portland Book Review

“Worthy of any science fiction library.”

Wired

“The usual superlatives for really clever fantasy (imaginative, mind-bending, phantasmagorical) aren’t nearly big enough for this debut novel. With this one book, Hodder has put himself on the genre map […] The book is incredibly ambitious, and the author pulls it off like an old pro: not only is the setting exciting and fresh, the story is thrilling and full of surprises. Hodder’s only problem now is to find a way to follow up this exhilarating debut, which will appeal not only to sf/fantasy readers but also to mystery and historical-fiction fans.”

Booklist, Starred Review

“Fans of steampunk will be intrigued by the alternate history setting, in which the queen dies mid-century; they will also enjoy following Burton and his sidekick, poet Algernon Swinburne, as they investigate the dark secrets of 19th-century England and recall Burton’s legendary expedition to find the source of the Nile.”

Publishers Weekly

“Hodder’s first novel delivers an exquisitely fleshed-out blend of steam-punk and gothic horror that should have broad appeal.”

Library Journal

“Mark Hodder’s debut novel, THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK, is a remarkably sophisticated and well-executed manifestation of the [steampunk] sub-genre […] He has created a compulsively readable romp that recalls the best of Tim Powers and James Blaylock.”

Barnes & Noble Newsletter

“A phenomenal first novel deserving of the recently won Philip K. Dick Award […] If this is the “punk” Hodder wants to see steampunk look like, then I say with Oliver Twist, “Please, sir, I want some more.”

Tor.com

Awards & Accolades

USA

Winner 2010 Philip K. Dick Award

Rights