Introducing the World’s First Steampunk Superhero
1926. New York. The Roaring Twenties. Jazz. Flappers. Prohibition. Coal-powered cars. A cold war with a British Empire that still covers half of the globe. Yet things have developed differently to established history. America is in the midst of a cold war with a British Empire that has only just buried Queen Victoria, her life artificially preserved to the age of 107. Coal-powered cars roar along roads thick with pedestrians, biplanes take off from standing with primitive rocket boosters, and monsters lurk behind closed doors and around every corner. This is a time in need of heroes. It is a time for The Ghost.
A series of targeted murders are occurring all over the city, the victims found with ancient Roman coins placed on their eyelids after death. The trail appears to lead to a group of Italian American gangsters and their boss, who the mobsters have dubbed “The Roman.” However, as The Ghost soon discovers, there is more to The Roman than at first appears, and more bizarre happenings that he soon links to the man, including moss-golems posing as mobsters and a plot to bring an ancient pagan god into the physical world in a cavern beneath the city. As The Ghost draws nearer to The Roman and the center of his dangerous web, he must battle with foes both physical and supernatural and call on help from the most unexpected of quarters if he is to stop The Roman and halt the imminent destruction of the city.
Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men, only the Shad — oh wait — this isn’t the Shadow. Ghosts of Manhattan is a clever homage to the shadowy avengers of yesteryear. I have a special place in my heart for dark avenger heroes like Batman, the Shadow, Zorro, and Darkwing Duck.
Ghosts of Manhattan is comic-book pulpy goodness set in the milieu of a steampunk 1920’s Manhattan. I thought that the story would be a little campy, but chapter one sets the tone with flechettes. “The shattered body crumpled to the floor, gore and fragments of human matter pattering down around it in a wide arc.” The Ghost doesn’t play around. He is a dark, violent character and he uses his steampunk gadgets in a gruesome manner.
The story rockets at a very fast pace. I liked the film noir feel. Holograms, Tesla coils, “winking diodes, white dials, and steel switches” really added to the setting. Just when you think that it couldn’t get any weirder it does. Even a steampunk world can always use a little more Love — craft.
I enjoyed the book and I recommend for those who like their steampunk on the dark side. I give it 4 stars out of 5.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pyr. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”