Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper
By David Barnett
Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper is the third of David Barnett’s marvelous steampunk novels chronicling the real-life, penny-dreadful adventures of Gideon Smith, Hero of the Empire.
It’s best to read the earlier books first, if only for an introduction to Smith’s entourage (Maria the Mechanical Girl, Belle of the Airways Rowena Fanshawe, and gutter journalist Aloysius Bent), but prior familiarity with these characters isn’t necessary as this one also works as a stand-alone story.
Fans of steampunk will recognize all the usual trappings of the genre, including lots of gimcrack Victorian inventions from an alternative history of science and a rococo plot involving, in this instance, Jack the Ripper, a hungry young tyrannosaur, a mysterious artificial brain, and a motley cast of villains from walks high and low. It all makes for a busy book, but one that’s as much fun as a ride on the brass dragon.