Victorian London-Jack the Ripper is on the loose and his last victim is the beautiful whore Marie Kelly. Beloved by aristocrat Andrew Harrington, he simply cannot accept her fate or change it. Or can he? When Murray's Time Travel opens up in London guaranteeing customers a glimpse of the year 2000, Andrew sees time travel as the way to save Marie. Can it be done? He realizes the only man that can help him is H.G. Wells, author of the Time Machine.
Claire Haggerty is a young bored society girl who feels like she is living in the wrong time. When she hears about Murray's Time Travel she sees a way out of her dismal life-by escaping to the future. Things are not as they seem though and the young man who has done her wrong must enlist the help of H.G Wells to set it right.
After several murders with odd characteristics occur in London, authors H.G. Wells, Bram Stoker and Henry James are called to a haunted house. There an astonishing story of time travel is revealed to them. Is the story teller telling the truth or is this some sort of trick? H.G. Wells must decide whether or not to go along with the storyteller's request. Along the way he discovers that he may hold the key to the future of the human race.
If all these sound like they are loosely connected stories that is because they are. This book is told in three different parts and are all connected by the concept of time travel and the author H.G. Wells. The experience of reading this book I think would be akin to visiting one of London's fabled opium dens of the Victorian era. It may seem like I have revealed much of what occurs in these stories but I assure you I have given only the vaguest glimpse of what actually occurs in the book. You will definitely need to read it to find out the interesting and unusual ways in which these barest synopses of story lines go. We are guided along by a mysterious narrator who sometimes interacts with you as the reader and sometimes just lays out the story (think the narrator of The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber).
Here is what I loved about this book: It is wonderfully inventive and the book which opens with Andrew Harrington deciding to take his life, grabbed me from the beginning. The book runs the gamut from touching love story to fantastical science fiction story with a bit of mystery thrown in. I liked that they all tied to H.G. Wells in some way and I really enjoyed his character in this book. I also loved the appearance of Stoker and James as well as the meeting with Elephant Man-Joseph Merrick.
That being said, I did not like all the stories equally. I thought the first one was the best out of all of them, the second one was interesting but kind of drawn out and the third while entertaining, was the most far fetched and hard to believe. Palma's writing was kind of uneven in the sense that there would be these action filled parts that really captured my interest followed by other parts where the story went off on a tangent and slowed down to the point where I got a little bored and impatient to get through it. The author gives you so much material to process and I think this book defies classification into one genre as it has elements of quite a few. I don't think I have ever read a book quite like this and probably won't encounter something like it again (unless the author writes another). I will definitely pick up something by this author again. He must have some imagination to conjure a story like this and I would be curious to see what else he can come up with.
I received this book from Simon and Schuster via Galley Grab. These are my honest thoughts on the book.