The Affinity Bridge by George Mann

author: George Mann
book published: 2008
rating: 3/5

Sir Maurice Newbury and his new assistant Victoria Hobbes are instructed by Queen Victoria to investigate an airship crash. Their investigation leads them down many strange paths, putting them in the way of the revenants haunting the slums of London, a murderous glowing policeman, brass automata and a missing Dutch royal.

I like steampunk. Also, zombies. I like ghosts and magic. I like spunky, anachronistic female protagonists. I like Sherlock Holmes and mysteries of that ilk. What I don’t necessarily need or like is all those things, crammed together into one book. The entire feel of the book is muddled and superficial, as if George Mann (or his publishers) is trying to capitalize on all the quirky pieces of esotery that are popular at the moment.

I was also very disappointed in the two main characters. Newbury is perfect in nearly every way – he’s dashing, smart, sensitive, well-read, is open to both social and technological advances and pretty darn handsome. His only flaw, seemingly, is his Laudanum addiction, which only seems to affect him when it’s convenient to the plot. It’s not a struggle he needs to overcome, because it doesn’t endanger his relationships, his health or his ability to solve the case. Victoria is… well, she’s a woman. And she is certainly good at that. She wears dresses, she takes tea, she is aghast at scenes of violence or horror, but she is also appropriately strong and smart to be sort of helpful in this investigation. But what she’s really, really good at is supporting Newbury. She worries about him, praises him, gets him tea, tends to his wounds and never, ever ever questions his abilities or expresses an opinion that runs counter to his.

I can forgive so many plotting sins when a novel gives me good characters. Plot holes? Meh. Silly ending? No biggie. Giant leaps of logic? Sure thing. But when an author doesn’t put in the work to present three dimensional, relatable characters, I get so incredibly frustrated. I will not be continuing with this series.

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