A Review – London Darkness: Infernal Invention
Today I would like to post a review of a recently published book by Chris Stocking of Write To Perfect.
Let me get this cat out of the bag, London Darkness: Infernal Inventions is pretty darn sweet. It held my attention, moved at a fast pace without being too fast, which can breed confusion as the reader tries to keep up. It is a rollicking, dark Steampunk story worth reading. Every word of it.
This is Chris Stocking’s first public foray into the genre of Steampunk (that I am aware of). Much like the genre itself, this novel is a unique mash-up of character types, settings and plot points.
In London, someone is murdering the top inventors of the League of Inventors. A violent forced brain-drain. By accident, independent inventor Ryker Mayson is swept into the plot as he celebrates his birthday. Curiosity brings Ryker out to the street to discover the first victim. From that moment on he is carried away by the rushing current of murders and related happenstance, such as his prostitute girlfriend being sold in a tavern frequented by one of the killers. A plot is uncovered that aims at the downfall of the League of Inventors and eventually all of London.
Assisting Mr. Mayson is Wendell, his Gnome sidekick and Celia the aforementioned woman of the evening and girlfriend.
The characters in this novel are all breathing, living creations. None of them are angels, but rather, flawed people in very harsh circumstances.
I was intrigued by the inclusion of Gnomes in this world. They seem to be the only Fae race, but I honestly do not know that for absolute certain. They live and work side-by-side with Humans, have the same virtues and vices. It is notable that the suggestion of a prejudice between Gnomes and Humans exists was made. At first blush, it could merely be a rivalry or jealousy over inventing skills, but it is something worth watching in any subsequent works.
The steam-powered elements are well done. Chris mixes both traditional steam with mysterious glowing power generators that radiate different colored lights. Machines are a focal point of this story and I found his interpretation of Steampunk unique and enjoyable.
The world is a darker version of itself. The crimes are horrific and as previously mentioned. The heroes are not riding in on a white horse, waving their white hats. It is a gritty urban tale of desperate people doing whatever they must to preserve their city.
If I can make the comparison, this setting is a 1800s version of London, which could easily evolve into the dystopian world in which Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) takes place.
Chris writes a fast-paced story that moves from scene to scene rapidly. His novel did not lag for me at any point. I appreciate that. There are novels that I have read where at certain points the action slows and long exposition takes place. While the writing may be eloquent and well-intentioned, breaking the pace of the story is unforgivable.
He describes the people and places of his London vividly, so much so that I have clear images in my mind.
I found a few errors. Spelling, chiefly the switching of homonyms (There and Their for example) and in one case a plural form instead of a singular one. These did not detract from the story in any way. I looked for breaks in character, storyline or main plot and did not come away with anything. Overall, this is a tight book, well written and edited.
I enjoyed reading Infernal Inventions a great deal. So much so, that I finished it in less than eight hours. Granted I had to take several breaks as life jumped in, but the story kept me more so than a lot of other novels or anthologies I have picked up recently. It is darker than what I usually read and / or write, but that is completely ok by me. I like to say, “A change is as good as a rest.” This novel certainly provided a change of pace, a very welcome one.
In summary, this novel was very entertaining, fast paced and constructed beautifully. The plot was thought out and complete. The characters were interesting and wholly formed. If there is any real complaint, it is that the second novel is not out yet. I can recommend this book if you like thrilling tales, a little on the darker side. If you have an electronic reader (specifically one with the Kindle software) you have nothing to lose by downloading the sample and reading the first three or so chapters. I would suggest that you may very well find yourself hooked and ready for the rest. Oh, and if you need the tactile feel of the book in hand, Chris has made sure that you can order a physical print copy too.
Keep an eye on Mr. Stocking, I feel strongly that he is going to make a great splash in the literary world. Want to know a little more about the author? You can read a few interviews with him: Here’s mine. This one is by Carrie Nyman over at Dare I eat a Peach? Hopefully she can forgive me for linking back to her site. :-) See you Thursday!
Thanks for reading!