“The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter” by Rod Duncan- good ideas strangled by terrible writing

The Bullet Catcher's DaughterI couldn’t resist buying this one: great title, striking cover art, a steampunk setting and the first in a series. It had to be worth a read. Except that it wasn’t. I gave up after ninety minutes of this ten hour audiobook.

There’s a lot to like in “The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter”: a truly original take on an alternative nineteenth century England; a brave and tenacious heroine who has to pretend to be a man in order to do what needs doing (which not only allows gender issues to be highlighted but gives lots of opportunities for cross-dressing fun); a tongue-in-cheek attitude that salts the whole thing with dry humour and big, impressive Victorian machinery.

Normally, I’d have settled down to this with the same kind of smile I have on my face when I’m reading the one of the “Parasol Protectorate” books but my enjoyment was destroyed by the faux-Victorian language. It was distressingly inauthentic, producing the distracting dissonance that one experiences when listening to a non-native speaker trying to use the vernacular of one’s own language. It may be amusing for a short time but it quickly becomes wearisome. I was expecting pastiche but what I got was clumsy parody that rendered the dialogue lifeless and crippled the attempts at humour.

I’m aware that this is a very popular series, so perhaps the fault lies with my expectations but this one was added to my Did Not Finish pile.

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