The Young Chesterton Chronicles

I begin this post with an apology to the author of The Young Chesterton Chronicles, whose work I promised to read and review quite a while ago, and only now have finished. But better late than tied between wild horses and having your limbs torn out, as they say.

So where to begin? These books are awesome. As one may judge by their covers:

I got the pleasure of reading the second book in the series, The Emperor of North America. In a steampunk world of bizarre da Vinci-esque flying machines, Gilbert Keith Chesterton is a martian-fighting, world-saving journalist — together with his friend H.G. Wells. They deal with zeppelins, Irish mobs, cowboys, Mormons and no end of people trying to kill them.

The best part? It’s a love story. Gilbert is infatuated with his real-life, soon-to-be wife, Frances Bloggs, and he’s rather hilariously inept at expressing the fact. One of my favorite parts of the book came from the beginning, as Chesterton moves in for his first kiss:

Gilbert was in a state of such blissful anticipation, such pure and unadulterated love and joy, that he hardly noticed when the ceiling exploded.

That should give you a good taste of what McNichol’s serving. It’s over-the-top by necessity, and I have to admit that as much as I enjoyed it, my little brother enjoyed it a hundred times more, and he is the litmus test for the reading tastes of the Artemis Fowl, Percy Jackson generation of Fantasy absorbers. The only faults I found with the book were the occasional sledgehammer of Catholicism, and a personal one: I know too much about Chesterton’s life, his family and his childhood, so I had to suppress a certain urge to shout “blasphemy!” as McNichol fearlessly wrote Gilbert a new back story. But thinking about it now, Chesterton wouldn’t have minded…

So check ‘em out!

The Difference Between a Martyr and a Victim
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and LOVE My Smartphone
Sexuality and the Land
Bettering Your Boring Christian Playlist: Jenny & Tyler
  • Fisherman

    Catholic sledgehammer? So a blatantly obvious moral backed up by our own beliefs? Man, I love my faith and way of life, but it is annoying when that happens. But, you had me at “steampunk” so I will certainty check them out.

  • Jeanette O’Toole

    How is it that John McNichol is allowed to use the G.K. Chesterton name (in this fashion) in his books?

    • Seraphic

      No law against it! Allowed–sniff.

  • Emily C. A. Snyder

    This sounds like a GREAT read! Love the quote – danke!

  • curtjester

    I read the first book and quite enjoyed it. Though for some reason it hasn’t been embraced by some in the Chestertonian community. Regardless I liked it.

  • Mary MacArthur

    I tried to read the first one but couldn’t go on when I found he made Chesterton American. I love America, especially Minnesota (where McNichol made him from) but I could NEVER see it as Chesterton if he’s not English. That’s too all-defining. But if others can see past that, more power to them! Enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    That there would be such a sledgehammer was my primary worry- that they are fun regardless means that I will be checking these out!

  • Sam

    These books are approved by my secret-world-taking-over-homeschooled-Catholic-Chesterton-nut group of 14-15 year old friends who have found them to be very good.

    So go read them.

    • Murry

      Love those SWTOHCCN groups!

  • MrsF3

    I think they sound great as stories, but Chesterton wasn’t even Catholic or Christian as a teenager! I love adventure and some futuristic things, but I like historical accuracy to some extent! Why couldn’t he make up a fictional character that is inspired by Chesterton? And at another point, write a Chesterton novel that is REALLY about Chesterton’s life?

    • Seraphic

      Well, maybe you could do that!

    • Sam

      The idea is a bit hard to grasp if you don’t know a whole lot about steampunk, but after you learn a bit, you see that a good deal of it is re-arranging historical things to create an interesting premise. So it really makes sense if you read it as a steampunk type book, though doubtless if you read it in any other way( and especially if you don’t know what steampunk is,) it will make little sense.

  • John Doman

    Well, I haven’t read these books yet, but I find it my duty to make a shameless plug for the people that publish my books: Chesterton press dot com.