The first few books are fun historical fiction adventure, steampunk; I haven’t read book 3 yet, but 1 and 2 are pretty good. The 4th gets a little dark but remains mostly similar. This one gets dystopic and loses the fun. Nearly every major character is killed off and brought back as a plant, descendant, cyborg, or clone, or a combination of the above. It gets stupid and meaningless.
Burton and Spring-heeled Jack are both back and neither one has a clear head. Jack can’t remember who or what he is; he only knows Burton is the key. Burton can’t figure out what’s going on with time skips and gaps in his memory for about the first half of the book. This has been a thing in previous volumes, and having it here again gets old. This first half isn’t great, but it’s not terrible either. The group finally figures out that they have to travel forward in time by jumps in order to not get caught by whatever is driving Jack, and then put a stop to whatever it is. They set things up so their descendants and those of their friends will help them out along the way. Things are already getting weird, since Burton has recently discovered what his beloved Saltzman’s Tincture actually is and its connection to Algernon, who is not his entertaining self nearly as much as previous installments.
The second half of the book is the time jumping, and each jump the world gets uglier and more under control of the bad influence of the bad thing. Each time, more people get hurt or die, the government is more controlling, and there are more evil pig-like police creatures patrolling the world. Eventually, the group figures out that one of their former colleagues was infected with Jack’ insanity and is the bad force. In order to stop him, Burton sort of dies, but comes back as a cyborg after reliving his life that he would have had were he the historical Richard Burton. At this point, I’ve seen so many reincarnations or reinventions, I’ve stopped caring. Swinburne has died at least twice by this point.
One of the few bright spots was the native time people having to explain modern notions to the Victorian Burton, including ‘childhood’.
I will chase down book 3 because I want to see what happens to the gang before things go bad; but I’m really not sure I care enough to get book 6. Yes, I want to know how everything turns out, but this one was so bad, I’m not sure I can handle much more of it. Dystopia is one thing, but this book takes the interesting things dystopia can do and renders them meaningless by repeating the tropes ad absurdum.