Review: The Affinity Bridge
If you are like us, when you go to a bookstore you let your eye wander. If you already know what you want to buy, and you walk right to it and pick it up, you’ve missed a golden opportunity. When you let yourself browse the bookstore, you get the opportunity to let books choose you, in a sense. This is how we discovered THE AFFINITY BRIDGE by George Mann. The art design on the cover is incredible–some of the best we’ve see this year, in fact–and we knew right away that we wanted to read it. So, we each picked up a copy…
… and remembered that, unfortunately, we are poor. So we put the copies back, and went to the library. It was a bummer.
The second anyone sees this cover, they will know that it is Steampunk. For the uninitiated, there is only one thing you need to know about the sub-genre. Steampunk = awesome. THE AFFINITY BRIDGE is no exception. Airships, automatons, steam-carriages, tea, and zombies (wahoo!!!). Yeah, this has all the good stuff.
But you know what really made this novel great for us? The feeling that it was a Sherlock Holmes novel. In a Steampunk setting. Where Watson is a chick. And the Queen is a Steampunk monstrosity. Geez…it’s exciting and cool just thinking of it.
There are several plots afoot (we’ve always wanted to say ‘afoot’) that are happening all at the same time in Mann’s novel. A mysterious glowing policeman is killing people. There are zombies running around the streets of London (once again, WAHOO!). However, the main investigation taken by our PoVs Newbury (the Holmes character) and Hobbes (the female Watson character), is an airship that crashes Hindenburg style, killing all of its occupants. The plots, and their resolutions, are completely fantastic. In all seriousness, THE AFFINITY BRIDGE is a standard mystery novel, yet… it feels so fresh. Maybe it is the nostalgic Sherlock Holmes feel, or maybe it is the Steampunk setting. Perhaps it is even the simple added possibility that the supernatural actually exists in this world created by Mann. Whatever the cause, we loved every minute.
This story would have failed terribly without good characters. Newbury, the main PoV, is perfectly written in our opinion. From his drug addiction to his obsession to the occult, he his a flawed and real character. Hobbes–Newbury’s assistant–is a strong female character who really deserved more “screen-time.” And just wait until you read the epilogue. It really made the Hobbes character awesome for us, and we imagine it will give her more PoV time in the following novels. The side characters were well done, as are the villains (thankfully, the villains weren’t crazy over-the-top like in most mystery-like novels). One of the side characters, The Fixer, was fabulous. His small section in the story illustrated perfectly how to show off “cool-stuff” in a story without it feeling tacked-on. Budding authors, take note.
There were a few issues we had. The PoV switches were very poor in some places. There were times where you had two or three different PoVs in a single paragraph. It didn’t happen all the time, but often enough to make note of. In addition, setting description was very light at times. We would have liked some time dedicated to showing us the differences in this London from the real historic one. But hey, all of the good plot and character made up for these small problems.
Like so many novels lately, this one has been out in the UK for a bit now, and the sequel already came out as well. If the price for importing wasn’t so high, we would consider sending for the second one. But once again, we are poor. It makes us sad pandas. That being said, we fully intend to read everything that George Mann releases. He has his next Newbury & Hobbes novel coming out next year (book 2 for the US, book 3 for the UK), as well as another novel titled GHOSTS OF MANHATTAN coming out through Pyr SF&F in April (looks like the UK gets it in May). Go grab a copy of THE AFFINITY BRIDGE (it is worth every penny of the cover-price), and while you are at it, preorder Mann’s next novels.
Simply put: we can’t wait to read more George Mann!
- Recommended Age: 13+. This novel is perfectly accessible to all ages.
- Language: Nope
- Violence: Yeah, there is some, especially towards the end with the zombies and such. It's great.
- Sex: Nope
Steve’s Note: I’m a big sucker for mystery novels, and I tend to read quite a bit in the mystery/thriller genre. Lately, however, the genre has gone stale, and I’ve looked for my mystery fix in other areas–namely horror or classics. Mann’s THE AFFINITY BRIDGE was picked up strictly based on its cover, but the mystery novel inside really made me excited for mystery again. It also made me pick up the Complete Annotated Sherlock Holmes collection. Three huge hardbacks with every Sherlock Holmes short story and novel. They look pretty, but my wife won’t let me read them until Christmas.
Seriously, give Mann’s Steampunk novel a try. Not only will it give you an appreciation for the awesomeness of Steampunk, but it might restore your belief in mystery novels again.