Title: Unnatural History (Pax Britannia #1)
Author: Jonathan Green
Genre: Steampunk, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Adventure, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Victoriana
Publisher: Abaddon Books
Published: April 17, 2007
Page Amount: 320 pages
Blurb From Goodreads: In the closing years of the 20th century the British Empire’s rule is still going strong. Queen Victoria is about to celebrate her 160th birthday, kept alive by advanced steam technology. London is a fantastical sprawling metropolis where dirigibles roam the skies, robot bobbies enforce the law and dinosaurs are on display in London zoo. Welcome to Magna Britannia, a steam driven world full of fantastical creations and shady villains. Here dashing dandies and mustachioed villains battle for supremacy while below the city strange things stir in the flooded tunnels of the old London Underground. In two scant months the nation, and all her colonies, will celebrate 160 years of Queen Victoria’s glorious reign. But all is not well at the heart of the empire of Magna Britannia. A chain of events is about to be set in motion that, if not stopped, could lead to a world-shattering conclusion. It begins with a break-in at the Natural History Museum. A night watchman is murdered. An eminent Professor of Evolutionary Biology goes missing. Then a catastrophic overground rail-crash unleashes the dinosaurs of London Zoo
Why Read: This was a NetGalley read that I picked up out of sheer curiosity. For those of you who know me, you know I’m currently deep in the listening of the “British History Podcast,” which follows the history of the territory of Great Britain. I saw this and the back description especially and well… I simply had to read it.
Review: Unnatural History was just that: unnatural. I mean that in an entirely good way. There was a certain sense to the book that definitely led me to the conclusion that it was a fantasy novel and I knew it. Some fantasy novels write themselves as though what we are reading is quite real and that we would be fools for suggesting that it is anything but. Unnatural History is not like that, which is nice in some ways and frustrating in others.
The characters were fun. The whole setup was very Batman-esque with a butler who flies around in a mobile as the main protagonist goes on his adventures while flaunting danger and defying certain death. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. I adore the sort of playful character development and descriptions that lend themselves to me smiling and chuckling along in my room.
The plot itself was, as plots go, well done. There was action, adventure, intrigue, some romance, and everything you would expect from a fantasy novel. I expect I’m getting a little cynical in my reading maturity, since finding a normal book can almost be a little disappointing. I want something entirely unexpected and new!
That said, Unnatural History is really a fun and entertaining book. Who else can lay a claim to fame with a Neanderthal character, mind-control collars, a Queen who is basically all robot, and a protagonist who both brains and brawn. Basically if you’re looking for something funny, then go for it (Completely recommended!)
Rating: 4/5 Stars