Gabriel Bergmoser’s Boone Shepard sounds right up my alley – a young adult novel about a young, daring journalist (Boone) who gets mixed up in time travel, monsters, famous authors and other adventures.
The story is definitely original: Boone is an Australian investigative journalist in England in the 80s – that’s the 1880s – who gets involved in several different stories that end up becoming famous books (think The Picture of Dorian Grey or Sherlock Holmes). After a particularly horrible case, he time travels to 1965, but of course, the past just won’t leave him alone.
The supporting cast includes Marbier, an enigmatic bodyguard and love interest, and Promethia, an antagonistic investigative photographer and colleague. Both of these women are great characters, probably more so than Boone, but we’re limited to Boone’s point of view, which means I didn’t find out as much about the two main supporting characters as I would have liked.
Boone has a habit of getting involved in situations that later become famous. For example, early on in the book, he’s friends with Oscar Wilde. they visit a handsome, rich, young man, Damien White. Ring any bells? These little conceits are equal parts funny and annoying to me, for reasons I can’t quite figure out. All these famous stories turn out to be linked, in a convoluted and
As Boone is a journalist from the 1880s, it makes sense that his narration isn’t exactly modern. There’s a clear avoidance of contractions and a certain old-fashioned formality which is in keeping with the style Bergmoser is aiming for. However, I found that the lack of contractions meant the writing didn’t flow as well as I wanted it to, and the formality stopped short of say, Oscar Wilde or Bram Stoker’s prose, treading a more or less safe middle ground for a wider audience.
Maybe I went in with too many expectations: I thought I’d love it, but at best, I felt ambivalent. That’s not to say that someone else won’t love it, but I just couldn’t engage with the writing style, despite the potential in the story.