Whitechapel, London. 1888. Madeleine Fell is dreaming of Babylon. Not the Victorian Babylon of London, but a second, Mesopotamian Babylon that exists in a parallel dimension, a world populated and ruled by Ishtar’s sacred prostitutes that has of late gained ascendancy over our own.
In Whitechapel, Jack the Ripper is murdering Babylonian whores. And off-world, on Babylon itself, the men of the Black Order plot revolution — by instituting a ruthless program of gendercide. Unbeknown to her disapproving parents, Madeleine enters the Babylonian novitiate, her heart set upon travelling to the exotic, parallel world of her dreams, fearful, yet at the same time strangely excited, by the intimation that her demon lover awaits.
When Madeleine’s parents discover what she has done, she escapes to Babylon with the help of her irrepressible friend and fellow novice, Cliticia. As the two adventuresses journey through a landscape of magnificently bizarre ruins towards the consummation of their amour fou and a concomitant disillusionment, they begin to understand that Babylon the Great, like London, is as much a city of the mind as a set of co-ordinates on a transdimensional map, and that they owe the Black Order, and even Jack the Ripper himself, a debt of complicity.
‘Calder’s visions of Babylon are both allusive and alluring. How can one resist a scene like this? “Lord Azrael and Mr Malachi stood by the railway lines that ran down the middle of the street. I looked south, to where the lines receded towards the vanishing point of our destination: a saw-toothed horizon comprised of ziggurats surmounted by a bloated moon. The moon neither waxed nor waned, nor did it cross the heavens; it simply remained where it was, night after night, like a great Chinese lantern above the tiny, distant buildings — a goddess brooding over her deathly still world.”
‘Later invocations of Fuseli, Rossetti, and the like are equally intoxicating — bizarre, sensuous, channelling the essence of late 19th-century decadence … His goal may seem to be nothing but fin de siècle atmosphere erupting into pulpish mayhem. But then comes the kicker … and we can see how it applies to us, at the dawn of the 21st century … If Babylon is a dark dream from another age, it's also very much our own.' — LOCUS