“Map of Chaos” by Felix J Palma

This is book three of the Victorian Trilogy (Trilogia Victoriana). I had been waiting for this book FOREVER and happened to find the hard cover for $3 at Good Will. I didn’t even realize it was out. So naturally I grabbed it! Went in for Cosplay, came out with a book …my life story.

The first thing I will say about Palma’s books is they are a SLOW BURN kind of story. They are all very slow paced and reading 5 pages sometimes feels like you’ve read 100 (which is why a 568 page book has taken me almost a month.), but he keeps it interesting enough that you WANT to know what’s happening, even if it is relatively dry and boring.

The thing about these books is Palma changes his formula every book. When I read Map of Time, I figured I had a pretty good understanding of how this author works (these formulas are how I could do things like predict big events in Game of Thrones – George RR Martin has a very big and obvious formula too). So when Map of the Sky came out, I was excited but I figured I would have this one figured out in the first few chapters. I was wrong, Palma changed his formula completely. Map of Chaos, changes that formula AGAIN. And with each addition to the book, he adds something new. Which I think is what draws me in because I CAN’T predict what he’s thinking because he hasn’t taught us. Video games teach you how to play and navigate in their worlds, authors teach you how to navigate their worlds as well. Palma teaches you a LEVEL and then completely changes it as soon as you level up.

If you haven’t read the previous two books, I recommend you stop reading here because I have to explain the twists to explain how Palma changes and adds to his formula.

In the first book, everything “Sci-Fi” was proven fake. Until the very end of the book where he turns everything on it’s head and reveals that the themes are real, just not the way everyone expects it to be. And there’s time travel. In the second book, he flips it on its head again and everything is real, and there are aliens …oh and more time travel.

That brings me to the third installment. The first two books allude and hint at things, this book is straight forward. You’re not trying to prove if something is or isn’t, it is an event that happens and everything is taken at face value. But the thing about this book is it kind of reads like a clusterf*ck. First off, the Prologue is 40 pages. It was about an HG Wells who was a scientist in a SteamPunk world. I thought, okay, makes sense after the Alien Invasion I guess? Or the diverted Alien Invasion as it would be? Then the prologue ended and Chapter one started us with Cornelius Clayton, an officer who investigates strange cases, but not in the Steampunk world. He believes nothing is real until he has his arm ripped off by a werewolf. Then it skips 10 years later, which is odd for Palma, his stories are usually linear unless there is “time travel”, but he doesn’t jump time like that (another formula change). Clayton is now investigating Spirituality in the Victorian era where there was an explosion in interest in seances and ghosts (this was an actual time period, started by the Fox sisters). Clayton investigated popular and apparently REAL Mediums to figure out if they are actually real, or fake. Most of them end up being fake, but on one investigation a strange “ghost” appears and tries to strangle an elder lady, screaming about needing a book. Clayton later goes to the old ladies house to make sure she was okay and she gives him The Map of Chaos, an apparent book that will save the world (the title is not ironic, but I’ll let you figure that out for yourselves). The Invisible Man attacks again and the old lady disappears from a secured room. Cue two years later when Clayton is knocking on HG Wells door to get him to help investigate an Alien Invasion.

This is where up-to-date knowledge of the previous books comes in handy. Every book I have ever read is stored in my mind so usually when I hit a reference I somewhat remember. Which is lucky because it’s been a while since I read them and I don’t own Map of the Sky.

From there it is a wild ride through Universes, Time, and Space, following the exciting exploits of Wells and his wife Jane. Up until the last 150 pages or so, it feels like thousands of stories are thrown at you (hence the clusterf*ck), but in those 150, they all start to come together, in a way that some times leaves me yelling “AHH!!” and pointing excitedly when I catch a references or something is revealed.

I don’t want to reveal too much more than that because this is an incredible book, and an even more incredible series. The slow burn does make these a little difficult to read, but it’s always worth it in the end!

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