Review – The Infernal Aether – Peter Oxley

by Meera Nair

Oxley, Peter - The Infernal AetherWhen an act of bravado lands Augustus and Maxwell Potts into a war between two realms, they hadn’t realized how fast their normal lives would spiral out of reach. They begin to be hounded by monstrosities from Hell.  Add to that Andras, a seemingly invincible evil incarnate, who is bent on making puppets out of Gus and Maxwell. Excited by the weak nature of humanity, Andras decides to make Earth the new Hell, by opening a portal into the Aether (i.e. the spirit realm). Together with N’yotsu and Kate, the brothers embark on a long journey that takes them all around London and the British countryside, in an attempt to defeat Andras and his posse. 

Simply put, this novel is a cross between the TV series, Supernatural and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan.  I was extremely intrigued by the plot, but after a point, the storyline gets a bit too repetitive for my liking; what with the brothers encountering a new demon one after the other. That is not to say it wasn’t entertaining. It just wasn’t as gripping as it could have been. The author’s writing style is interesting; full of intricate imageries that transport you to the scene. In fact descriptions seemed to be his key strength. The Steampunk elements make a more permanent appearance after the first section. We are introduced to all of the basics, right from automatons to airships, infernal devices to clockwork etc. I would have loved to know more about Maxwell’s experiments. But what sticks out during those scenes is Gus’ whining about the aesthetic value of Maxwell”s experiments.

These demon-hunting brothers are wrenched apart time and again, because of their polar opposite dispositions. Maxwell is an ambitious, passive and calmer character, whereas, Gus has been portrayed as a hot-headed, good-for-nothing; unable to make a living out of his writing. Even though Gus is the protagonist, I didn’t really like his character much. He’s extremely whiny, gullible and doesn’t think rationally. Kate is at times funny and a generally likable character. While there are tons of characters that play integral parts in the novel, I can’t say much for their character arc, because there isn’t much of a drastic change or development in any of the cases. I was in awe of the number of characters who crop up to help the foursome and make a clean exit once they’ve fulfilled their purpose. It all ties up very well.

Overall, it is a fun read and exposes you to a horde of paranormal creatures. The plot could have been built on in a much better way; there was tons of character development potential. Perhaps we’ll get to see some of that in the next book? If the Steampunk genre is right up your alley, you could check it out. But don’t expect too much.

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