Watch out--there's evil things lurking in the fog!-George MannIt certainly lived up to those sentiments as a zombie plague is running rampant in London, but that is a bit of a fake-out as the zombies or Revenants as Mann likes to call them is more of a B story line at best. I've long been a fan of steampunk and The Affinity Bridge brings the steam in spades. If H.G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle somehow worked out the science and had a son it would probably have been George Mann. There are clockwork automatons, airships, ghosts, mad scientists, and spades of other things in this entirely strange Victorian setting Mann has concocted. The Affinity Bridge is very much an homage to Doyle's Sherlock Holmes style while still very approachable for modern tastes. The main characters start off very stuffy, but as the work progresses I found many layers yet to be revealed. Newbury has demons that I was yearning for Mann to set free, but alas he is holding out on us. I thought his female assistant Hobbes was a bit one dimensional until something that happened at the very end, which made me question her purpose and skills. Newbury is investigating a series of mysterious murders when he is called away by Queen Victoria to look into an airship crash. The Queen is being kept alive by means of technology, which was intriguing. The dialogue flows well and there is plenty of good action as Newbury battles Revenants, Automatons, and even a few other things. However, some of the solutions to the mysteries do present themselves to Newbury a bit too easily on more than one occasion, but his body does pay the cost for that ease time and time again. I also worked out the big connections fairly early on, but it didn't ruin the experience at all.
The Affinity Bridge is sheer fun and will keep you pushing forward to see how the investigative team of Charles Newbury and Victoria Hobbes solves the mysteries. I give The Affinity Bridge 7.25 out of 10 Hats. The series is expected to be at least 6 books long so it makes me wonder if Mann has an over arcing theme in mind for the rest of the series or if it will merely be more episodic. And just who will be his Moriarty? There were shades of massive intrigue towards the end involving Hobbes that could open this world wide. I'll definitely be checking out future volumes. The 2nd volume The Osiris Ritual is to be released in July in the UK, although no date has been announced from Tor on the US release. Sometime next year Mann will release Ghost of Manhattan in the UK as well, which judging by the description is set in the same world as The Affinity Bridge, but not with the main characters from the series. New info thanks to Lou Anders @ Pyr: Ghosts of Manhattan will be released in the US April 2010 by Pyr. I find the US and the UK covers brilliantly detailed and beautifully illustrated. You have to take a look at it up close to appreciate all the little embellishments on both.
There is also a free short story called The Shattered Teacup set in the same world, but before the events of The Affinity Bridge available as an: eBook or as an audio book from Snowbooks the UK publisher of the series.