I have had high expectations. You will read more about it in the review. Let us start with a look at the covers. Covers? One book and more than one cover? Yes, indeed. UK and US edition have different covers.
Let's have a look at both covers of Ghosts of Manhattan.
On the left UK cover
On the right US cover
I bought the UK version published by Snowbooks. It is in the style of the Newbury & Hobbes covers which I like a lot.
In the end it is a question of taste which cover you prefer. My favorite one is the left.
I can't tell you anything about differences concerning the content between the UK and the US version as I read only the UK one.
1926, New York, Jazz, Flappers, Prohibition, The Roaring Twenties. Can you imagine? Maybe following video gives you an impression:
And now add some ingredients which separates Mann's world from the past we know from our world.
The world of Ghosts of Manhattan is still dominated by the British Empire which suffer from death of Queen Victoria. Her life ended after 107 years.
America is in cold war with the Empire.
America, the land of unlimited possibilities. Steam powered engines and coal-powered cars, biplanes with rocket boosters, pneumatic driven weapons and trains, wireless receivers, miniature holotubes, airships, jet packs and more.
New York, Manhattan inhabited by a melting pot of rich and poor, good and bad, supernatural and normal, vigilantes and mobsters. Not to forget golems ..........
Put it all together and you are in the steampunk version of George Mann's Manhattan. Follow him on a ( for me far to short) 275 pages lasting, gripping, action packed, adventurous and most entertaining ride.
Manhattan, in the grip of the "Roman", a gangster par excellence with a dark and bold plan based on secrets of the past. His hallmark are two antique Roman coins.
Manhattan, in deep need of a hero. Meet the vigilante dressed in a fully black coat completed by a fedora and red lighted infrared goggles. Meet the Ghost wrapped in mystery:
Ghosts of Manhattan is the story of the Ghost, detective Donovan, The "Roman", jazz singer Celeste Parker and the very rich Gabriel Cross.
"I have no name.
I am the judgment that lives in the darkness, the spirit of the city wrought flesh and blood.
I was born of vengeance and I have no past. I am both protector and executioner.
I represent the lives of the helpless; those who will not or cannot help themselves.
I show no mercy.
I exist only in the shadows. The alleyways and rooftops are my domain.
I feel the heartbeat of the city, like a slow, restless pulse;
I flow unimpeded through its street map of veins.
I live to keep the city clean, to search out the impurities and deliver retribution.
I am Life and Death, Yin and Yang.
I have no name ...
And I know where to find you."[p.7]
Ghosts of Manhattan is the story of the final fight between the Ghost and the "Roman". It is a story of betrayal, revenge, love, moral visions, friendship, the yearning for justice.
Ghosts of Manhattan is a story full of breathtaking fight scenes including the use of steamy gadgets, a story with only few insights of the past of the ghost.
Ghosts of Manhattan is a story of the endless fight between good and evil.
Ghosts of Manhattan is like a DC hero graphic novel without graphics. Artist George Mann draws directly in your brain.
I'm a fan of Rorschach and of Batman in The Dark Knight. And the Ghost reminded me a lot of both of them.
Don't get me wrong. I love the Ghost. He entered my list of favorite heroes after a few pages.
George Mann captured the mood and atmosphere of a steamy version of Manhattan in the Roaring Twenties perfectly. It is the ideal sphere of activity for characters like The Ghost and the "Roman". The story is told more or less straight with just a few windings. George Mann's style is quite direct and intoxicating. You will get serious problems to put down the book. Only sleep and work halted my reading.
Ghosts of Manhattan is a story with an end but at the same time you divine essential basics for the planned sequels. And in the very end you get a hint for the next story ........ Dead birds.....
I wrote about high expectations. And they have been exceeded by far. What a stirring and gorgeous novel. I added Ghosts of Manhattan immediately to my book of the year 2010 list.
Highly, highly recommended for everyone who likes heroes and steampunk in an action paced story.
The Literary Quintet
ediFanoB, Bona, Fide, Bona Fide and the Keeper of the minutes (we call him Kotm) debate about the book.
Don't worry it will be shorter than War and Peace and more interesting than counting grains of sand on the beach.
ediFanoB: "Hey personalities." The choir of personalities in unison: "Hey fogey!"
ediFanoB: "Ready to talk about Ghosts of Manhattan? "
Bona Fide: "Eeek! I found two coins in my socks!!"
Bona: "And something else in your socks? I mean toes..."
Bona Fide: "This ain't funny!!"
Fide: "Where is my fedora?"
Kotm: "Fide, Numbskulls wear planks"
ediFanoB: "You silly bastards! Did any of you read Ghosts of Manhattan?"
Kotm: "That was the 12th time you mentioned the title of the book. Do you get a bonus for that?"
ediFanoB[mumbling]: "Dog in the monger."
Bona Fide: "I read when you all slept. I finished the book first. The Ghost is now a good friend of mine"
Fide: "Bah! I read when you all slept too. And I can tell you that Ghosts of Manhattan is the right stuff for a movie. Can't wait to see the Ghost appearing in the night with his red goggles. And a biplane air fight in the street canyons of Manhattan."
Bona: "I read the whole book twice. I was really disappointed because I couldn't find King Kong."
Kotm[desperated]: "WE TALK ABOUT Ghosts of Manhattan and not about giant gorillas. But I agree with Fide, that George Mann's book is the right stuff for a movie."
ediFanob: "Maybe we can convince George Mann to make a graphic novel version of Ghosts of Manhattan. I would buy it instantly."
Bona: "What is a flechette?"
Fide: "If you would have read the book carefully you would know it. Did you read the book?"
Bona: "Er, er, er. I'm not sure"
ediFanoB[moaning]: "I promise you. This is the last time that I discuss a book with all of you. It is grueling. I want to talk with you about this intoxicating, fast paced, action paced, entertaining steampunk adventure. But all I hear is rubbish."
Bona Fide: "That's not true. The fighting scenes are breath taking. The gadgets adorable.And the golems assdaf rgrrgrr5 wfrewfrw werewrw fqqwe oreewfw ."
Kotm: "I'm sorry dear reader. I needed to censor Bona Fide because spoilers are not permitted."
Bona: "Gripping story but it was sooooooooooooooooooooo short. I want more. I want more. I want more."
Fide: "I'm sure there will be a sequel. I'm sure ediFanoB will it order immediately as soon as you can order it in advance."
Kotm: "Dead birds. What is the secret behind dead birds? I can't still imagine. It seems we shared our opinions about Ghosts of Manhattan. Now it is your turn ediFanoB"
ediFanoB: " Thank you Kotm. Last week we tried The Final Five. I found it cumbersome. I think we should return to an old custom. Please Kotm. It is your turn. Summarize!!"
Ghosts of Manhattan is an intoxicating, gorgeous, action packed, adventurous, most entertaining, steampunk hero graphic novel without graphics.
You like heroes and steampunk? Then read Ghosts of Manhattan.