A strange Victorian Steampunk novel that I enjoyed, despite its length and rather confusing cast of villains. Celeste Temple is a young English woman raised in the West Indies and residing in London awaiting a future wedding to her fiancé, Roger Bascombe. When he sends her a curt note breaking their engagement, she decides to find out why – following him to a mysterious party in an English country manor. After infiltrating the gathering, Miss Temple witnesses a bizarre set of “scientific” experiments and narrowly escapes capture after killing one of her homicidal pursuers.
The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
by Gordon Dahlquist
Her escape to London is short-lived, as the alchemical experimenters begin searching the city for her. She is soon joined by some unlikely allies – military doctor Abelard Svenson looks after his addle-pated foreign prince who is caught up with the sinister cabal pursing Miss Temple, and Cardinal Chang, a paid assassin who’s true love has been indoctrinated into the strange cult.
The trio soon find themselves in grave danger as they investigate the strange blue glass books produced by the villains, and try to unravel their sinister plot of world domination.
The book runs 700+ pages, and the cast of villains is huge, and difficult to follow. Some of them seem little more than cardboard cutouts, especially many of the minions and hangers-on to the cabal. Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit of exposition near the end, also, as the villains are forced to explain their dastardly plot – but it’s handled rather well and doesn’t seem overly heavy handed.
But there is a mysterious house with bizarre secret passageways and hidden rooms, and the final battle takes place on a zeppelin, so there’s plenty of fun involved.