This is an out of copyright Kindle freebie, first published in 1904. Chambers is best known for a short story collection, "The King in Yellow", and many of his ideas became part of later mainstream fantastic fiction. He also wrote a lot of forgotten drawing room and romantic comedies. As it turns out this particular book is an engaging mix of all of that, since it is a romantic comedy bizarro sometimes supernatural collection of episodes in the life of a cryptozoologist.
But here's the best part. Given the modern interest in steampunk and all things vaguely Victorian, and in consideration of Chambers' fast pacing and puckish sense of humor, this could be a book that was written yesterday, (if you took it as a mild spoof of Victorian literature). The hero is self-deprecating, slightly delusional, and a bit prissy, but always good company. Sort of as if Wodehouse had gone on safari. The women characters are always smarter, spunkier and more forthright and virtuous than the hero. The settings are exotic, in both time and place, and sometimes have an "Abbott and Costello in Africa" feel to them. Supporting characters are truly colorful. Dialogue is a bit snappy. The pacing is much faster than usual for turn of the century fiction, which can often be awfully dreary in between the good parts.
So, while these freebies are usually mostly appealing to me as historical curiosities, this one was actually four-square on its own entertaining, and a very nice find. (Please note that I found this book a while ago while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. I have no connection at any publisher of this book.)
- Paperback: 202 pages
- Publisher: Outlook Verlag (20 September 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 3734024641
- ISBN-13: 978-3734024641
- Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 1.2 x 21 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 272 g
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