Progress on Alternate: In the hands of beta-readers
This is the sixth and final volume of Burton and Swinburne’s adventures. I think it really does sum up and conclude the story pretty well, despite the reviews I’ve read to the contrary. I love The Beetle, and the storyline there (yes, you get no spoilers here). I also very much like bringing Edward Burton into it.
However it is also clear that this was where the story needed to end. It was just too complicated, and it was leaving steampunk behind and going very much for an oddly surreal alternate world that was making less and less sense. It was a big writing task to take on, really, and I think it began to take its toll towards the end on both plot and characterisation. But the ambitious storytelling is still a selling point – it made it unique, and as someone who is no stranger to biting off more than I can chew myself, I’m always pleased when someone manages to do just that and then chew it anyway.
Finally, the very ending of this book finished just as I’d hoped it would, with the addition of a moment with a tiny plant that the plant-lover in me squealed at – it was a lovely touch, considering previous happenings in the book. To quote Swinburne, who oddly enough begins to say this phrase more and more throughout the books as they go on, so that it becomes less of the unusual way he speaks and more a catchphrase: My hat!
I honestly think, as with many series, the earlier books here are the better ones. But those earlier books set a high enough bar that it didn’t matter one jot. These books are on my bookshelf, and they’re on there to stay!