Review: The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

FREE on Amazon

Amazon Description:

The plot of this novel depicts a group of men who have become castaways stranded on an island in the Pacific during the American Civil War.

Ade’s Review:

NOTE: This book was published in the late 1800’s. I, however, read it in 2013. Due to cultural differences the book may not have been received as intended.

Here we have five civilised men stranded upon a desert island, but as soon as they arrive they act as a plague upon the paradise, slaughtering the indigenous wildlife and destroying the landscape, shaping it to their own end with no respect for the natural world. Not the slightest remorse is shown for the creatures whose lives they destroy; every new beast or bird encountered is met with the same response: “Can we eat it? How do we kill it?”

Oh what loathsome devils! On one excursion they return to find apes inhabiting their home. Rather than peacefully usher them away, the blood-thirsty gang slaughter the lot, taking one final orangutan prisoner to turn into a slave. Indeed, they callously mock the poor beast for its inability to understand the concept of remuneration for its troubles.

The brutality does not end there. Happening upon a large turtle on the beach, the men joyously turn it onto its back so it would die slowly in the sun. Upon finding whale bones, they freeze them curved in fat, to lure animals into eating and thus pierce their stomachs. Oh, what twisted degenerates they are!

So arrogant are these men in their claim to this land that when a ship comes to dock for a similar purpose (to restock food and water), the quintet attack them without mercy, killing every last one.

Over the course of the story it becomes clear that Cyrus Harding is a villain of the most devious kind. I found myself first rooting for the big cats, then the pirates and finally the volcano.

Upon reaching the outcome, I was very disappointed.

Hail To The Chris

Forest Dragon 2 by Christopher Hayes

Steam Engineers, The Tote

Many have been praising the artwork within The Mariner of late, so I thought I’d draw your attention to the illustrator behind them: Christopher Hayes. Chris lives in the Yarra Valley, outside of Melbourne, though like myself can trace his scarred memory back to Croydon, England.

He is one of the three developers of the world of the “Tote”, a steampunk environment for which he is the principal artist. Whilst Paul Hayes and I thrash out the workings of the great city and those who live within, it is Chris who gives this world its visual style and flavour.

A long time horror fan, Chris was able to turn his skills to the darker arts, supplying all the artwork for The Mariner, both the front cover and the ink sketches within. Below is a scene from the book in which the Mariner observes an abandoned philosophy teacher adrift in the ocean. Those who have read the chapter will notice Chris’ amazing ability to take the flavour of the scene and then go in his own direction creating something that is more than just a representation of the events.

You will hopefully be seeing more of Chris’ artwork later this year with the release for the first Tote novel. Too see more of Chris’ work, please visit his deviantART page.

Rotten Philosophy by Christopher Hayes

Review: Hounds of Autumn by Heather Blackwood

Hounds of Autumn by Heather Blackwood

Amazon Description:

They say that the moor has eyes.

It is 1890, and the windswept moors hold dark secrets. Chloe Sullivan is an amateur inventor whose holiday takes a dark turn when her friend and colleague, one of the few female mechanical experts in the British Empire, is murdered.

A black mechanical hound roams the moors, but could it have killed a woman? And what secrets are concealed within the dark family manor?

Accompanied by her naturalist husband and clockwork cat, Chloe is determined to see her friend’s killer found.

But some secrets have a terrible cost.

Ade’s Review

A common pit-trap of steampunk literature is to go too grand too quick. What begins as a focused self-contained story suddenly explodes into epic battles and world changing plots. Thankfully this is not the case with Heather Blackwood’s “Hounds of Autumn”, a smart and engrossing contribution to the genre that is both engaging and at times moving.

The narrative plays out as a good old murder mystery in a country house, but with a steampunk spin on the events. The clockwork and steam ingredients are used delicately, sprinkled here and there to improve the flavour of the piece, rather than being the main dish in itself. The focus here is very much on the characters and the sinister plot that unravels with increasing momentum.

The only minor complaint I might have is that the story comes together a little too quickly and neatly in the final chapters, but this is a staple of murder mysterious and seems to be more of a flaw in the genre than the writing itself.

Verdict

I look forward to more steampunk from Heather Blackwood in the future. The world she creates is a pleasing and intriguing one that never loses sight of what it set out to achieve.

Hounds of Autumn is available on kindle for £1.95.

Visit Heather Blackwood’s website