Whitechapel Gods is best described to me as a dark blend of fantasy and science fiction set in Victorian London.
In an area of London known as Whitechapel, two mechanical Gods arise; Grand Father Clock of cold logic and Mama Engine of creativity and emotion. Whitechapel becomes a walled off place that is not loyal to the Queen or London. Lifeless killer robots called boiler men who are almost unbeatable patrol these walls and the streets, carrying out the will of Grand Father Clock while the black cloaks serve Mama Engine.
Cover of Whitechapel Gods
On top of all of that a mysterious disease goes through Whitechapel, slowly ripping apart the flesh of the victims and slowly turning them into lifeless mechanical beings. As Grand Father Clock aims to complete full order and Mama Engine does her Great Work, people are sent to the Chimney where they are tortured but kept alive by machines and not allowed to die.
Meanwhile, in the literal and metaphorical underground world, the Queen’s agents are aiming to topple these Gods, and they face many challenges and losses ahead. On top of that there are other Gods waiting to arise…
On a personal level, the book starts off in a mass of confusion for me and I found it hard throughout to fully imagine what the author was trying to convey. Nevertheless, he was very successful in creating a sense of darkness and despair in Whitechapel, completely transforming it from the Whitechapel that I have seen.
The characters are truly loveable and believable. Oliver, a former rebel who is troubled by his past and his failures which resulted in the death of many innocents. Missy who was a former prostitute drugged into submission by her madame, Gisella, whose voice still haunts her. Bailey is a British patriot and leader of the current resistance. Bergen Keuper, a mysterious German explorer who appears to be cold, fearless and calculating. John Scared, an old but cunning man with his own little game, notorious for forcing children and urchins to watch his brutal torture methods. These are just some of the characters that I can list of the top of my head and they all interrelate realistically and very nicely.
However, like I said, it was confusing, and so one has to be patient until the pieces start falling into place. What kept me reading was the genre and the concept of Mechanical Gods that could possibly fall, but I imagine that those who aren’t initially interested might not get very far. The reason that the Gods fascinated me was because it provoked thought of how one can really define a God, and their apparent mortality lies close to Nordic and Greek mythology, which is far different from the world religions of today.
Despite all of this, it was a truly inspiring book even if it was fictional. It is a story of incredible resilience against almost impossible odds, and packed with action. It is not childish as people will swear and curse and that helps with the real gritty feeling of the story. But my favourite parts are when the author describes each of the Mechanical Gods, their inner workings, their minds and how they affect and break human beings. It is a tough job to do this convincingly, but the author does it well and makes it look easy.
Do you want a physical, spiritual adventure set in a dark London with an exquisite blend of science fiction and fantasy? Then please read this book!