Author: Tara Sim
Series: Timekeeper #1
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 48
(see breakdown below)
Two o’clock was missing.
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.
But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.
I loved this book! It just seemed to have a little bit of everything, from tender romantic moments to deep and interesting world lore and a curious mystery to follow along with. It was just a really fun and beautiful read.
The world itself was fantastic. The concept of time and how it works in this world was ingenious and so creative. Placing this in an accelerated industrial revolution version of Victorian London was just so interesting to read. It gave it an almost steampunk type feel with the steam power, the cogs and gears, the airships while still keeping one foot in a more realistic middle class London of the time – The authors note on how they made subtle changes to accelerate technologies and even cultural attitudes really spoke to the level of research to make this fantasy world seem real. We also get touches of a restructured mythology that slowly builds throughout the book that was so creative and fun. The world just got richer and richer in detail as we moved through the story and that is always a big plus in my opinion.
The main character, Danny, was also great. For a seventeen year old prodigy with a recent loss of his father, he wasn’t whiney in his grief mopping and positive the world is out to get him, but he also wasn’t the troupe of the over entitled, with power beyond his years, hero either. He was determined and strong, but also sought out help from people he thought would understand when he needed it. He had his own, well warranted, fears and anxieties, that he is addressing on his terms while also trying to prove to seniors that he is capable. It was nice to see a character in control of deciding how they address those aspects of their life. He was a refreshing YA hero. I genuinely liked him and happily followed him through his story. Danny’s love interest, Colton, was also a fantastically interesting character, both naive and worldly in his supernatural way it was just a beautiful romance to see burgeoning on the page.
I wish we got more from the side characters, their were some really interesting snippets of other clock mechanics, such as Daphnie – who we get a perspective switch too but very little of her story, or Danny’s best friend Cassie, even Danny’s mother, who all play an important role in Danny’s story but we learn so little about them. We find out small snippets of Cassie and why she is so protective but not enough its more throw away that adding to her character.
On mentioning the perspective switch it was a little jarring and out of the blue which left me a little confused until I realised that we were no longer following Danny’s POV. Some of the section and chapter endings were also a little abrupt which just put me off a little. My biggest peeve is a strange one. The author just over used the word “Danny”! Danny did this, Danny did that. This really stuck with me as it reminded me of the poem by Benjamin Zephaniah – A day in the life of Danny the Cat – in which every stanza starts with “Danny wakes up”.
Other than that the pacing of this book kept the pages turning, the mystery surrounding the attacks on the clock towers was interesting, I made several guesses as to the perpetrator and found myself to be quite wrong. The twists were exciting and engaging. Danny’s personal mission to rescue his father was nicely interwoven with his new desire to continue and protect his romance were also interesting, giving the story real depth. The ending was a satisfying and firm conclusion, while also intriguing enough to warrant me to request the second book from my library immediately.
If you are in the mood for a steampunky, LGBT+ romance with some great twists and turns this is a must read.
ENDING – 8
STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 7
CHARACTERS – 7
ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 9
PLOT – 8
ENJOYMENT – 9
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