Part western, part sci fi thriller, C. R. Hindmarsh's novel The Converted gives a glimpse into a society where technology pairs with unbridled greed creating not just physical monsters, but figurative ones as well.
In the novel, Dr. Anton Springmann journies into the frontier country of New Alania hoping to escape his past and start his life over with a clean page. But it doesn't take long for him to realize that he's left a bad situation only to enter a worse one. When he arrives in New Alania, he finds that monstrous creatures are threatening the human population there. And when one of his patients, a young girl, is attacked, Dr. Springmann is determined to rescue the child no matter what, and in the process, redeem himself for his past crimes.
Hindmarsh is a solid writer. His plot moves swiftly, and his characters are interesting. He brings the tragedies in the story to life, making the reader care about what happens. From the very beginning of the story, Hindmarsh draws his readers into his world and keeps them there until the final page.
But not everything in this books works. The story contains elements of steampunk and science fiction and even fantasy, but unfortunately, these diverse things do not blend well. Instead of complimenting each other, the genres clash.
For example, it stretches credibility to think that a society could produce complex genetic mutations while, at the same time, having no technology beyond diesel engines and steam locomotives. The genetic research in the book was as out of place as a nuclear reactor in the middle of the "Little House on the Prairie" series.
An additional concern was that the only point of the genetic research in the story was to alter people's appearances. Since New Alania was an agrarian society, it would have made more sense for the gene technology to be used to create drought-resistant crops or heal injuries, and have the cosmetics spring up as a by-product of that technology.
Although C. R. Hindmarsh is a gifted writer, the plot for this book didn't work as well as it could have. Hopefully, his next book will work out some of these kinks.