George Mann has written an original novel utilizing two dynamic characters while blending science fiction, horror, and fantasy genres in Victorian England. But, even as these elements add up to a highly entertaining work, it is not without faults.
The Affinity Bridge features Sir Maurice Newbury, an agent of Queen Victoria, and his newly hired assistant, Veronica Hobbes. They are a fun duo, both formidable in their own right, and soon after the beginning of the novel they are thrust into three seemingly separate investigations. London is besieged by a plague of revenants—zombies, a glowing policeman intent on killing, and a dirigible crash piloted by an automaton—a robot.
Newbury, while a capable investigator, also dabbles in the dark arts and has a few incorrigible habits that shall remain unmentioned. Hobbes has a clairvoyant sister in the asylum and a secret she dares not reveal to Newbury. Their relationship is wrought with sexual tension, mutual respect, and catchy dialogue. Neither is afraid of action, and both employ behavior considered unusual for the time period.
The story comes to a satisfying conclusion, though the rising action is far more engrossing than the climax or the resolution. Newbury and Hobbes, along with Mann’s surrealistic, gritty London, are primed for another tale, one I would not hesitate to read. Mann’s story is firmly entrenched in reality, but a reality where anything is possible.
I do have one complaint, however—adverbs. Mann indulges in adverbs so often that it becomes a distraction, one I couldn’t ignore for most of the novel. It may sound petty, but most of them were unnecessary with as many as three per sentence in some cases.
With The Affinity Bridge, George Mann has created a city and cast of characters unrestricted by genre and exciting to follow. Though his use of adverbs is distracting, Mann writes quick-paced, well-plotted prose and takes care to fully resolve all subplots. If you are a fan of science fiction, secret agents, zombies, robots, unholy killers, and the Victorian Era, then I recommend The Affinity Bridge.
I hear what you are saying. I’ve read many reviews of this book, and of course I purchased a copy myself and enjoyed it — to a point. No other reviews even touched the flaws of this otherwise really enjoyable book. I see your adverb use, and raise you another two fundamental flaws that rather limited my enjoyment of this book. First, the investigatory days of the story seemed very short. — up in the morning, one visit to one scene for a couple of hours, then back home for a hot bath and yet another cup of Earl Grey tea, as if Victorians didn’t drink any other variety — ever, and were at pains to mention the variety they drank. It’s as if we constantly went around saying we enjoyed a cup of French Roast all day long. But I digress, their workdays were painfully short and compressed, so that was an issue. Second, I was frankly irritated by the pacing of the mystery. The detectives are getting nowhere, and keep coming up with no substantive clues day after day, yet they are being attacked, etc. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, it all becomes so clear without any buildup of solid clues or leads at all. The author simply pulls it out of his top hat like a rabbit. So that was a tough pill to swallow. Still, I loved the work Mann created, and his characters are interesting and the idea of the story is really, really good. It was just a bit choppy, and I felt it could have been so much better given the world Mann created. Oh well, I’m still deciding whether to buy the next installment. Thanks for letting me rant! Brian
You make great points, and I agree with them all. Your tea and coffee comment made me laugh:)