Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl

Written by David Barnett
Review by Kate Braithwaite

Fiction meets history, meets steampunk, meets gothic horror in David Barnett’s page-turning romp though a Victorian world where the British are poised to send a dirigible to the moon and blood-sucking monsters are landing at Whitby pursued by Elizabeth Bathory, the vampire widow of Count Dracula.

The reluctant hero of this madcap tale is Gideon Smith, son of a fisherman and a dreamer at heart, who reads and believes in the hero of his favorite comic strip hero, Captain Trigger from the penny dreadful, Worlds, Marvels and Wonders. When his father dies in mysterious circumstances, Gideon travels to London to enlist Captain Trigger to his cause. During his adventures Gideon meets up with Bram Stoker, runs away with a beautiful automaton and finds that his own hero is not the man he hoped he was. To save the empire, Gideon must become the hero of his own story as the various plot strands culminate in a battle in the skies over London.

With plot twists galore and a vast array of humorous and intriguing minor characters, Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl has something for everyone. Part adventure, part romance, part thriller and horror tale, on entertainment grounds alone this novel is worth a read, and the ending holds out a strong possibility of a sequel or even a series in development.