Book Review: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder is a historical fiction novel that weaves an incredible story around the lives of some historical figures and one historical mystery. It is an interesting tale of a past that is suspiciously like how a science fiction writer would imagine the future . . . and with good reason. A mixture of true historical explorers, scientists and more coupled with time travel, genetic experimentation and technological advances makes The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack a must read for anyone who knows anything about Victorian era history, though there is hardly anything truly historic about it.

Most historical fiction novels are based more on fact than fiction. They may throw in the life of a fictional character or a fictional occurrence or two, but, for the most part, they tend to stick to things or people as they truly were while adding some embellishments for our reading pleasure. Such is not the case with The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack. This book has a few accounts that are true to history. For the most part, the events that take place are purely fictional and the people who exist in the book never did most of what the book has them doing. Of course, Mark Hodder clearly states this. This is intended to provide twists to history and it does.

What is great about Hodder's book is that he makes adequate, though far fetched, explanations for the deviances between true history and what occurs in The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack. What we know of as history was destroyed by a time traveler who goes back in time to save his family name. He unintentionally changed the course of history and introduced ideas into the past that were not supposed to be introduced until later. Thus, he creates a Victorian age filled with polluting contraptions, genetically altered creatures and genetically altered people. The time traveler is none other than London's mysterious "Spring Heeled Jack."

Readers who are into romantic or epic-style historical fiction should look elsewhere. Those who enjoy mystery, suspense, intrigue, cheap thrills and science fiction mixed with their history should look no further. The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack should appease any such reader.

Shelly Barclay

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