Times Literary Supplement

Successful in embracing the both the idiom and manners of a past age is James McCreet’s The Vice Society. A first glance might see it as influenced by the Michael Faber school of fantasy Victoriana in which London is forever doomed to being, like Hardy’s Casterbridge, “a hoary old place of wickedness” and every respectable household is purulent with venery and lies . . .

. . . {McCreet] keeps a firm eye on structural machinery, giving us leisure to enjoy his stylistic sleights of hand, including the significant intrusion, at points throughout the story, of a mysterious omniscient narrator, who combines the functions of chorus and puppeteer. With a visit to an opium den, a Skittles-like grand horizontale and a scene which Gustave Dore might have drawn amid the Smithfield slaughterhouses, the whole confection fulfils the stated aim of Dickens’s Fat Boy: “I wants to make yer flesh creep”.

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