How to bag a Jabberwock
review by Magda Knight
The Victorian Age is beset by monsters from the rat-toothed Jabberwock and skull-headed Martian to the fell Air Kraken. Dashing steampunk monster hunter Jack Union is here to teach us how to defend ourselves against each and every one.
Buy your copy of How to Bag a Jabberwock from Amazon now.
That's right. From the depths of the Amazon.
We are, all of us, perfectly aware of Queen Victoria's lifelong terror of monsters. She believed - quite rightly, having seen them with her own eyes - that monsters threaten to assail the Empire's sovereignty with their various hairy/scaly/slimed threats. We won't say it out loud, but things were better under her reign. We had battalions and regiments protecting us from manifold monster attacks. Under her successor King Edward (God Save The King) we are experiencing budget constraints due to Empire expansion costs. Monsters are no longer sought out and hunted by waged battalions. We are all going to perish.
Except we're not. Huzzah! Tirelessly brave and selfless individuals like Jack Union, Monster Hunter are undertaking to clear our skies, seas and caves of threats found in illustrated picture-books but all too real. Dauntless Jack Union knows exactly How to Bag a Jabberwock. If you don't believe us, do take a look at the trophies in Jack Union's billiards room when you next visit. Are they illustrations? Are they, Dear Reader? No. They are real. They will put your doubts to shame.
You should by now be nursing two questions in your heaving bosom*.
Who is Jack Union? Why - this is Jack Union.
He's very dashing, isn't he? He has boundless energy and experience when it comes to felling Air Krakens to protect our balloonists, hunting luscious-curved Manticores with dogs and vanquishing Lycanthropes (scratch the human to see if fur rests under the skin. If it does, have at them with silver. The man or woman who first vouchsafed that soft silver works against a Lycanthrope was a brave man or woman indeed). Jack Union is also resplendently capable at dealing with Revenants, Vampires, Snarks, Shide (that's the Fae to you and me) and many, many more.
There are only three ways to achieve Jack Union's Empire-restoring levels of dashing. First, it's in the genes. Second, your attire should match the occasion and be clean and pressed at all times. When in doubt, don a pith helmet. Third, the eyes and moustache never tell a lie. If you've hunted monsters for King and Man, your eyes will have a distance to them. Your finely waxed moustache will bristle with untold tales. If you have not hunted monsters? Then you are to be pitied and protected at all costs, you limp-moustached, watery-eyed thing. Jack Union is here to save unfortunates like yourself, and teach you a thing or two about monsters while he's about it.
He will even teach you what a Jabberwock is - although, as a Mook, there is a fine chance you will already know. A Jabberwock - something like a dragon crossed with a rat - is one of a plethora of monsters that besets the would-be adventuress or explorer of the Victorian Age. Constructs, Ghoti, Jub Jubs, Lycanthropes, Manticores... even those ruddy Martians are hiding in the nooks and crannies of our skies, seas and caves.
Photo: Martin Soulstealer. A Revenant before him, Jack Union considers his next move. Those dashed revenants won't off themselves, you know...
For the miserly sum of eight pounds and 44 shillings, How to Bag a Jabberwock: A Practical Guide to Monster Hunting is an enormously helpful guide to the monsters attacking the Realm. You will find descriptions of the monster and the threat they pose, easily memorisable tips and useful personal accounts of Jack Union's vanquishing of such foes together with his faithful batman Kent and assorted sundry characters. You will even find illustrations - notable for their draftsmanship, particularly when you consider the physical duress Jack Union would have been undergoing at the time he put pen to paper. Yes. Many of these illustrations have been done... in the field. With a monster's gaze upon him.
As you read, you'll not only widen your understanding of monsters of the Victorian Age. You will also gain insight into the man himself. You will discover he cares not for that "80 Days Around The World" glory hound, Mr. Phileas Fogg. You will learn that Jack Union's own air balloon is stocked with a hamper at all times, and when one is required to lose ballast, the hamper is often the last thing to go. You will discover that he is no stranger to bare-knuckle boxing, and has little love for Queen Victoria's dogsbody and confidante, "that Scotsman, John Brown".
Photo: Gail D'Almaine 2011
With wit and vigour, Jack Union tells you everything you need to know. Lest you fear your eyes be wounded by examples of political incorrectitude, Dear Reader, be assured that Kit Cox - the man behind the monster hunter - is well aware of the vagaries of the Victorian Age. Jack Union is a product of the Empire - arrogant when he least expects it, and quick to slam a man for wearing the wrong day suit. Having said that, Jack Union is no dastardly Flashman. A true hero, Jack places our safety before his own. He has no desires to further his own aims (by taking of the Jabberwock gland of immortality, for instance). He is not only debonair but forthright and of good conscience.
Jack Union is, ladies and gentleman, a Steampunk hero. And on procuring this delicious steampunk monster guide you'll be well on the way to being a hero or heroine too.
* Gentleman or a Lady - it matters not. Your bosom will be heaving regardless of gender.
* Also, we genuinely forgot what the second question was.
Photo: Gail D'Almaine 2011. Jack Union has been known to seek adventure with dashing adventuress Miss Emily Ladybird...
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@MagdaKnight is the Co-Founding Editor of Mookychick. Her YA fiction and other writings have been published in anthologies and in 2000AD. She likes you already, so Email her and say hi, or visit her blog. She is on Google+.