How did I miss this one for so many years? This Tim Powers book from 1989 is still a fresh, terrifying (in some places), fascinating read! Follow the lives of Byron, Shelley, and Michael Crawford (only one fictitious), and be pulled into an alternate history hinted at by both Byron and Percy Shelley’s own writings. I don’t want to spoil it. It’s an otherworldly, terrifyingly supernatural reality that co-exists with our own, and if you write, you’re part of it–whether you realize it or not.
I thoroughly enjoyed the amount of research that went into the story–how Powers followed Shelley’s and Byron’s own timelines, how he used their words to support his alternate history. I also liked that it was an alternate world without the trappings of steampunk (although I also enjoyed Mark Hodder’s “The Curious Affair of Spring Heeled Jack”). It had an almost surreal feel that, yes, that’s how it happened. And, when writers create, yes, it’s the nephilim who are the “match to the powder keg” when it comes to words. His chilling “histories” of objects (wedding rings and communion paraphrenalia) were also nice touches.
The story is relentless. The prose is riveting. I literally could not put it down. It’s cliche to call something “pulse pounding” or “heart racing” anymore, but this one truly is. In places it is heart-breaking. In others, you will forget to breathe. I’m in love with this book. I was actually sorry when I reached the end.