Book Review 2009 #29: The Affinity Bridge

I received a copy of an ARC of George Mann’s Steampunk novel The Affinity Bridge, as part of the Amazon Vine program.

The year is 1901.
A strange zombie plague threatens the low class areas of London. Zeppelins fill the skies, piloted by mechanical men. Queen Victoria, with medical help, is still on the British Throne. A mysterious, glowing policeman has been strangling people.
Welcome to the world of George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge.
In this Victorian AH Steampunk world, meet Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes. Agents of the Crown, its their job to deal with enemies and threats to England.
And do it proper British style, of course.
Its clear that there are dark things afoot. A mysterious zeppelin crash impels our two agents into a world of conspiracy, adventure, intrigue and even a bit of the New Weird. The book is not as aggressively set in that genre as other novels I have read as of late; The Affinity Bridge is much more a pure AH “steampunk novel”–with some twists.
The novel starts slowly as we start to get to know the characters. It’s clear Newbury and Hobbes are relatively new to each other, as they are to us. However, the writing and characterization improve as we get to know Newbury, Hobbes, and the characters around them.
When it does hit on all cylinders, the novel feels a lot like those old Victorian novels, with all of the plots tying together in a neat fashion (perhaps too neat), hair-breadth escapes, and even a couple of pitched battles, and always time for British sensibility. The characters are neither cardboard nor two dimensional–both have flaws and aspects of their characters that they keep under wraps.
The tagline to this book is “A Newbury and Hobbes novel” which sounds to me that a sequel might be in the offing. Now that the characters and world are firmly established by the end of the Affinity Bridge, I’d read it.