Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper

Written by David Barnett
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

It is the early 1890s in England, and the Hero of the Empire, Gideon Smith, along with his sidekicks Aloysius Bent, Rowena Fanshawe, the Belle of the Airwaves, and Maria, the automaton, are on the trail of a killer in London, known as infamous Jack the Ripper. In a fantasy world of flying steam airships, steam-operated cabs and mechanically driven robots, these intrepid heroes must fight Indian Thuggee assassins, a large tyrannosaur kept in the sewers of London ready to be unleashed upon the population, and a devious killer and mystic hypnotist Markus Mesmer, who sends people into the streets of London in hypnotic trances.

A well-written fantasy novel of Victorian England, this novel is the second book in the series. This was my first steampunk adventure novel, and I found the story riveting, fast-paced and exciting. Once I got my head around the alternate history information (America actually loses their Revolution) and the gadgets used by the characters to move the plot along, I was able to enjoy the book. The characters are well-formed, credible and, in some cases, bigger than life. I highly recommend this novel and series to those who enjoy fantasy or steampunk stories.