Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl
By David Barnett
Sept 10, 2013
A Summary, for those in need of one, “Nineteenth century London is the center of a vast British Empire. Airships ply the skies and Queen Victoria presides over three-quarters of the known world—including the East Coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775.
London might as well be a world away from Sandsend, a tiny village on the Yorkshire coast. Gideon Smith dreams of the adventure promised him by the lurid tales of Captain Lucian Trigger, the Hero of the Empire, told in Gideon’s favorite “penny dreadful.” When Gideon’s father is lost at sea in highly mysterious circumstances Gideon is convinced that supernatural forces are at work. Deciding only Captain Lucian Trigger himself can aid him, Gideon sets off for London. On the way he rescues the mysterious mechanical girl Maria from a tumbledown house of shadows and iniquities. Together they make for London, where Gideon finally meets Captain Trigger.
But Trigger is little more than an aging fraud, providing cover for the covert activities of his lover, Dr. John Reed, a privateer and sometime agent of the British Crown. Looking for heroes but finding only frauds and crooks, it falls to Gideon to step up to the plate and attempt to save the day...but can a humble fisherman really become the true Hero of the Empire?
David Barnett's Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl is a fantastical steampunk fable set against an alternate historical backdrop: the ultimate Victoriana/steampunk mash-up! “ Amazon.com
Let me say first that there is very little positive I can say about this book. I gave the book 2/5 stars instead of 1/5 based solely on the last fourth of the book; which I found better than the entirety of the work. This book has an incredibly slow, boring, plodding start that is saved only by the addition of Bram Stoker and Elizabeth Bathory. Which is by far the craziest part of this steampunk novel. I would have put the book down before I hit the first 50 pages if not for this seeming side-story. When the book reaches around 70-75% to its completion it seems to come into it’s own with a League of Extraordinary men style. Except only the women in this book are extraordinary. The male characters in this work are stereotypes so through and through that they become insufferably boring. The innocent hero, the old resourceful codger, the incredibly cynical reporter, the well intended but lay about homosexual, the traitorous pirate with a heart of gold. It’s terrible… The book, while trying to buck being predictable from the very start seems to really clamp down and become extraordinarily predictable. Add to this a VERY unsatisfying ending to ensure a sequel and you have the hardest 354 pages I’ve tried to get through this entire year. I don’t usually regret reading books, but I can honestly say that there were plenty of times that I regretted reading this one. I really cannot recommend this book to anyone.