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Book Review: The Aylesford Skull by James Blaylock

Review by Prof. Jenn

The folks at Titan have sent me another snorter! This time, it’s a rollicking steampunk adventure starring savvy botanist and inventor Langdon St. Ives. I haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying previous St. Ives adventures, so I can’t speak to its place in the canon or how it holds up to them, but I can say to any readers who, like me, are being introduced to St. Ives for the first time here, you won’t either be lost or overburdened with exposition.

 

When the evil Dr. Narbondo kidnaps St. Ives’ son, we are hurtled headlong into a three-pronged investigation and chase, involving airships, Victorian Parkour, a glass cathedral, projected ghosts, and descriptions of pub meals that positively make one’s mouth water.

 

Blaylock does two things very well: he switches POV frequently enough that we get multiple perspectives on the action, but not so frequently that it’s jarring, or so we don’t get to know our characters well. It’s a perfectly balanced story as far as character in that way. It’s also action-packed–we really don’t know how the characters will get out of each predicament as they come, and it’s nail biting, with enough reflective rests that it doesn’t get too wearing.

 

Bottom line: The Aylesford Skull is fantastic. Highly recommended.

~Prof. Jenn

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