My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The play’s the thing.
I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for Victorian London fiction, whether it be fiction written at the time by Conan Doyle or Robert Louis Stevenson, or modern takes on it by the likes of Tim Powers, Dan Simmons, Kim Newman or, in this case, Peter Ackroyd.
As in all Ackroyd books, the city itself is a character, and in this one the cast and crew enact a drama while their lives and fortunes intertwine over a period of years. As ever Ackroyd’s literary mechanics are flawless, switching between voices seamlessly, whether it be in the form of trial transcripts, diary entries, or the over-arching, all seeing eye of the city itself. The plot moves along equally seamlessly, each cog in the clockwork moving as it must. At times I was greatly reminded of The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr Hyde in the way matters unfolded.
Reality and fiction are both at play, and they too are intertwined, as bloody murder is mimicked on pantomine stages, and grotesque pantomine is played out in the streets of Limehouse when the Golem walks abroad.
It’s a tour-de-force throughout, and Ackroyd keeps all his balls juggling in the air like one of his music hall performers.
A fine addition to the ranks of Victoriana. I loved it.