Book Review: “The Last Adventure of Dr. Yngve Hogalum” by D.L. Mackenzie

This is a steampunk adventure-comedy about a group of geniuses, The Hogalum Society. When their founder and namesake, Dr. Yngve Hogalum, dies suddenly, one of the society’s members, Phineas Magnetron, takes it upon himself to make a daring, perhaps even mad, effort to restore Dr. Hogalum to life.

The book is written in a verbose, overly-ornate style that is a deliberate parody of Victorian prose. It takes place in 1877, albeit an alternate 1877 with many counterfactual technologies.

A few times, the author succeeded a little too well at mimicking the wordy style of the day, to the extent that I sort of wishes he’d get to the point more quickly. I got used to this eventually, and by the end found the narrator’s sesquipedalian tendencies rather entertaining.

The book is a quick 30 minute read that serves as an intro to the world of the Hogalums. I happened to stumble across it while searching for retrofuturistic books, and while it’s really an alternate history as opposed to actually retrofuturistic, I nevertheless enjoyed it very much.

Even more than the book itself, I liked the afterword where the author explains all the historical references and deliberate anachronisms. Things that sounded like impossibilities as I read them (a 20-chamber revolver???) turned out to be based in fact. I always learn something from these “stories behind the story.”

All in all, this is a very entertaining story for anyone who likes humorous steampunk adventures.


  1. This sounds fun. I’m drawn to these humorous takes on the verbose (Jerome K Jerome used to dabble in this).
    Gone to the top of ‘You really must read more fiction’ list.

  2. If you’re in the market for an unsolicited book recommendation for the summer, you might like Samfah: a short story by JR Martin. It’s the sort of weird and creative fiction that makes me think of your taste in books.

    No pressure to read it, of course, but I’ll be reviewing it in June.

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