Book review – SM Peters’ Whitechapel Gods

September 8, 2012 11:31 am

Summary

Whitechapel Gods is best described as a dark blend of fantasy and science fiction set in Victorian London.

In an London’s Whitechapel, two mechanical Gods arise; Grand Father Clock of cold logic and Mama Engine of creativity and emotion. Whitechapel becomes a walled off place that is not loyal to the Queen or to London. Lifeless killer robots called boiler men patrol these walls and streets, carrying out the will of Grand Father Clock while the black cloaks serve Mama Engine.

A mysterious disease is spreading through Whitechapel, slowly ripping apart the flesh of the victims and turning them into lifeless mechanical beings. As Grand Father Clock aims to complete full order and Mama Engine does her Great Work, people are sent to the Chimney where they are tortured but kept alive by machines and not allowed to die.

Meanwhile, in the literal and metaphorical underground world, the Queen’s agents are aiming to topple these Gods and restore order.  Little do they know that there are other Gods waiting to arise…

Review 

On a personal level, the book starts off in a mass of confusion for me and I found it hard throughout the book  to fully imagine what the author was trying to convey. Nevertheless, he was very successful in creating a sense of darkness and despair in Whitechapel, completely transforming it from the Whitechapel that we all know and love.

The characters are truly loveable and believable. Oliver, a former rebel who is troubled by his past failures, which resulted in the death of many innocents. Missy who was a former prostitute, drugged into submission by her madame, Gisella, whose voice still haunts her. Bailey is a British patriot and leader of the current resistance. Bergen Keuper, a mysterious German explorer who appears to be cold, fearless and calculating. John Scared, an old but cunning man with his own little game, notorious for forcing children and urchins to watch his brutal torture methods. These characters all interrelate realistically and very nicely.

However, like I said, it was confusing, and one has to be patient until the pieces start falling into place. What kept me reading was the genre and the concept of Mechanical Gods that could possibly fall, but I imagine those who are not initially interested might not get very far. The reason that the Gods fascinated me was because it raised the issue of how one can really define a God; their apparent mortality lies close to Nordic and Greek mythology, but is very different from the world religions of today.

Despite this, it was a truly inspiring book even if it was fictional. It is a story of incredible resilience against almost impossible odds, and packed with action. It is not childish as the dark plot and characterisation helps with the true grit of the story. My favourite parts are when the author describes each of the Mechanical Gods, their inner workings, their minds and how they affect and break human beings. It made me question what author was targeting with his plot; a critique of mass technology, religion, the vulnerability of London or none of these things?

If you want a physical, spiritual adventure set in a dark London with an exquisite blend of science fiction and fantasy, you have found your next book.

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