This rather gory steampunk tale would best be appreciated by those who have very strong stomachs and an appreciation for macabre situations. Unfortunately, that does not describe me. I confess that it took me a long time to finish reading this because although I liked some of the imagery that was conjured by this very creative author I was disturbed by the methods being employed to create the reanimated corpses, the violence which evidently can be perpetrated on them with little or no repercussions and the constant attacks which are described in nauseatingly vivid detail. The constantly shifting points of view are disconcerting as are the proliferating Keeble boxes which seem to conjure up odd conflicts and the mysterious flying vehicles which are involved in the exciting climax are a bit unexpected. I suspect that familiarity with the series may be of some use to distinguish the various factions and their particular biases.
“Homunculus” by James Blaylock is part of the ‘Langdon St. Ives’ series that centers around the scientist who is part of the Trismegistus Club in an alternate Victorian London. The search for the remarkable Keeble box which contains an alien homunculus is complicated by the plethora of resurrected followers of several opponents, the presence of multiple other boxes with their unique contents and the conflicting goals of multiple individuals. The evil hunchback Ignacio Narbondo has promised the new Messiah Shiloh that he will resurrect Shiloh’s mother Joanna Southcote but it is difficult to get all of the required elements in the same place. Those who are supplying the arcane ingredients have their own agendas but evidently share the hunchback’s lack of morals and love of violence. It is up to St. Ives and his associates to make sure that the contents of the various boxes end up with their rightful owners but their opponents are equally intent on thwarting them and London becomes their battleground.
It is the late 19th century and a mysterious airship orbits through the foggy skies. Its terrible secrets are sought by many, including the Royal Society, a fraudulent evangelist, a fiendish vivisectionist, an evil millionaire and an assorted group led by the scientist and explorer Professor Langdon St. Ives.
Can St. Ives keep the alien homunculus out of the claws of the villainous Ignacio Narbondo?