Infernal Devices is one of the initial novels of what the author coined Steampunk. Steampunk has since flourished, gone in a number of different directions and has even made it to a Castle episode, which is to say, it’s pretty mainstream. I am by no means a Steampunk aficionado, but I’ve read some and certainly like the origins of Victorian London (or based there upon), the inventiveness of those who people the pages with their various machines and the manners. (I love the character Drake from Geeokomancy for all those reasons.) So, I was really looking forward to and anticipated enjoying Infernal Devices. Alas, for me, it fell short of great read.
Overall, Mr. Jeter presents an interesting story and world with some misses. Let’s look at some of these – while his characters could be somewhat one dimensional, they were characters. With the exception of the protagonist, these characters had some interesting personalities. The machines and inventiveness of the characters was interesting to see. The narrative itself was intriguing enough to follow to the end.
So why didn’t I fall in love with this book? It really had no characters in whom I was invested. There was some interesting characters along the way but only as a point of curiosity not of true interest. Sex crazed ladies, a stoner before there were stoners and an inventor that cared only for his art, not people and the world in which they live do not engender true connection. Finally, a protagonist with such a staid personality that he could safely regulate the inner workers of complex objects. Curiosity but no stake; no true connect. Moreover, they never really developed during the book.
While the storyline was interesting, it was also disjointed; I almost had a sense of going between various set pieces who connection was tenuous.
Finally, while I know why Mr. Jeter has Scape use the language he does, using the Lord’s name in vain was unnecessary and would not have been accepted in Mr. Dower’s Victorian world. For this reason alone, I cannot recommend this book.
I also listened to the audiobook; Michael Page did an admirable job narrating.
I haven’t given up on the genre by any means. I liked Cory Doctorow’s story Clockwork Fagin as well as stories in Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories. Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders, The Falling Machine and Alice’s Adventures in Steamland are all on my TBR list.
Banner image is part of a work from E Mendoza of the clock shop from Infernal Devices