The Witches of Chiswick by Robert Rankin Book Review


I’m in a charity shop, drawn in by the promise of cheap books. I wander over to the bookshelf and I look upon the usual suspects, unwanted copies of 50 Shades of Grey, obscure crime writers and autobiographies by D-list celebrities. I tilt my head to the right, reading the titles searching. Then I see it.

It’s the font that catches my eye, so unlike any other on a book. I pull it from the shelf and read the blurb…

We have all been lied to. There is a great conspiracy that exists to keep us from uncovering the truth about our past. Did you ever wonder whether those fantastic tales of H.G Wells and Jules Verne might actually have been based upon real events? That Captain Nemo’s Nautilus even now lies rusting at the bottom of the sea? That there really was an invisible man? Well now it can be told: how a cabal of Victorian Witches from the Chiswick Townswomen’s Guild, working with advanced Babbage super computers, rewrote 19th-century history, and how a 23rd-century boy called William Starling uncovered the truth about everything. Including Queen Victoria’s secret sexual relationship with Dr Watson, and Jack the Ripper’s real identity as a terminator robot from the future. Real history can be educational!

It was like love at first sight. Fireworks were going off in my mind, a voice was telling me that I need this book in my life. I need this adventure in my brain. It seemed like the book I’d been searching for my whole life. Luckily for me, it was only £1. Excited, I took the book home and began it that day.

I feel like I got through it really quickly. The chapters were short and the font was just the right size on the page so it was easy to read.

Of all the things that Science Fiction covers, time travel is probably my favourite thing to read. It was a tad confusing at times, but thankfully Rankin was kind enough to explain everything.

The blurb is a tad sensationalist. When I read it back it made more of the story than it actually was. The secret affair between Dr Watson and Queen Victoria seemed really important but was more of a passing remark.

I may not have gotten the perfect book that I was promised, but I really liked the book that I got. It was very Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett at times. Science fiction with just the right amount of silly.

I bought this book at the same time as Retromancer by Rankin also. I also found out that Rankin has characters and universes that span many books so I’ll be keeping an eye out for the rest of them.



Featured image is Victorian Blackheath village London SE3 Lloyd Rich


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