Beneath London by James P Blaylock
Back in the mid-Eighties steampunk as a concept hadn't been heard of as science-fiction writing was solely based in the future, or used time travel as a vehicle for tales of strange and far-off places. That was until James P. Blaylock came along. As one of the main writers of steampunk that grew from cyberpunk, Blaylock brings us his latest tale in his famous Langdon St. Ives series.
Mentored by Philip K. Dick, Blaylock is considered to be one of the main influencers of steampunk along with Tim Powers and K.W. Jeter. He has since won two World Fantasy Awards, the Philip K. Dick Award and is also director of the Creative Writing Conservatory at the Orange County High school of the Arts.
Langdon St. Ives is Holmes to a deeply disturbing Moriarty type who has remained hidden for some time, committing evil acts in Victorian England. What sets this novel apart from others I have read is the use of brown coloured text throughout the novel to represent the sepia tones of early photography. The beginning has the Victorian Embankment partly destroyed and what lies beneath being made into a place where Langdon St. Ives’ nemesis lurks, experimenting with vampiric fungi that live on the blood of others, animals and humans. London, it seems is rife with shady people, Mr Treadwell and Mr Snips being some who act as an underground mafia duo, threatening other men's lives if they don't give them a map of great importance. These two are not the ones Langdon should be worried about though, as the underground lurking Mr Beaumont has plans that could shake London to its very knees.
Other characters provide a clear look at the different types of baddies around at that time; Mr Treadwell and Mr Snips are two dangerous criminals in search of maps of the London underground where there is rumour a bird with luminous fungus is roaming. Along with the last of the maps, they need to find the bird for their master, though they also have to lure Langdon as both of them know he may want to thwart their plans. Dr Benson Peavey's Elysium Asylum might seem a normal building from the outside where the mentally ill are being treated, but what goes on inside is another matter. Depending on whether the families were wealthy and wanted their loved ones to be treated well, they would pay extra for their stay in more comfortable rooms. Most were poor and forgotten, and used in cruel experiments that would amuse high paying members of the public, one in particular being Mr Klingheimer. One of the subjects has been fed glowing fungi and developed psychic powers which Dr Peavy has been experimenting on for a while.
Sarah Wright lives in Boxley Woods and it’s rumoured that she is a witch. Mother Laswell has always been friendly toward Sarah, delivering essentials to her door in times of need, and never thought she would harm anyone, and to Langdon she makes a request that he visit her to find out whether she is alright as she fears something is wrong with her. When Langdon is brought into this mystery, there is more revealed about a girl who was being taught by the witch who had already developed amazing psychic powers that had to be kept under control. Langdon investigating the girl leads him to the underground lair where he is ultimately captured and taken to the lair of the madman who cultivates the vampiric fungi in Beneath London, the name of chapter fifteen where his investigation has taken him halfway through the novel. Langdon is sure that Beaumont has the blind girl, and needs to be careful now that he is in his lair, but there is someone else who lies beneath, a rich man who wants all that he has and Beaumont thinks he might soon have no use for him.
Beneath London is one of four novels in the Tales of Langdon St. Ives series; Homunculus, Lord Kelvin's Machine and The Aylesford Skull being the other three. As a reader it is easy to delve deep into the London underground passageways where all manner of evils lurk there ready to pounce.
Beneath London might be a well-crafted Steampunk novel, but it has a hefty dose of dark horror besides.
This Beneath London book review was written by Sandra Scholes
All reviews for: A Tale of Langdon St. Ives
A Tale of Langdon St. Ives
When the sudden collapse of the Victoria Embankment uncovers a passage to an unknown realm, Langdon St. Ives sets out explore it, not knowing that a wealthy psychopath is w...
The Aylesford Skull
A Tale of Langdon St. Ives #1
It is the summer of 1883 and Professor Langdon St. Ives – brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer – is at home in Aylesford with his family. However, a f...
A Tale of Langdon St. Ives #2
A mysterious airship orbits through the foggy skies above Victorian London. It’s terrible secrets are sought by many, including: The Royal Society, a fraudulent evang...
Have you read Beneath London?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Beneath London reader reviews
8/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Perdido Street Station
The metropolis of New Crobuzon sprawls at the centre of its own bewildering world. Humans and mutants and arcane races throng the gloom beneath its chimneys, where the rive...
The Anubis Gates
Brendan Doyle is a twentieth-century English professor who travels back to 1810 London to attend a lecture given by English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This is a...
The City and the City
When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Besźel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector T...
The Difference Engine
William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The computer age has arrived a century ahead of time with Charles Babbage's perfection of his Analytical Engine. The Industrial Revolution, supercharged by the developm...
A colossal fantasy of incredible diversity and spellbinding imagination. A human cargo bound for servitude in exile... A pirate city hauled across the oceans... A hidden mi...
The Aeronaut's Windlass
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have rule...
It is a time of revolts and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and riot...
The Mensch with No Name
Edward M Erdelac
The Merkabah Rider continues his journey across the American Southwest of 1880 in search of the renegade teacher who destroyed his mystic Jewish order in the second volume ...
The Shadow Conspiracy
1816, the year without a summer. A group of geniuses descended on Geneva and, in an attempt to save the body and mind of Lord Byron, perform dreadful and forbidden experime...
The Weavers of Saramyr
An evil that comes from within the empire's centre, a sect of magicians close to the throne intent on killing any child born with magical powers. But now the empress ha...
The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats
Sir Richard Francis Burton's expedition has returned from the future, bringing with it knowledge of technologies that must remain secret if history is to proceed as it ...
A young clockmaker's apprentice, who is visited by the Archangel Gabriel. He is told that he must take the Key Perilous and rewind the Mainspring of the Earth. It is ru...
The Good, the Bad and the Infernal
One day every hundred years, a town appears, its location and character different every time. It is home to the greatest miracle a man could imagine: a doorway to Heaven it...
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man
A clockwork man is abandoned in Trafalgar Square. A ghost displays a craving for diamonds. A lost aristocrat returns ten years after being lost at sea and instigates riots ...
Sea of Ghosts
When the last of the Gravediggers, an elite imperial infiltration unit, are disbanded and hunted down by the emperor they once served, munitions expert Colonel Thomas Grang...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
Journey to the Black City
On an Earth that is very much like our own, the civilizations of ancient man have been crushed; the giant glaciers that cover the northern part of the globe continue, even now...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself King, and traitors at every turn. The Five Kingdoms and Sarth have assembled a fleet of ships unlike any the world has ever seen and they intend to purge the Pirate Isles once a...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...