By Tara Sim
E-book, 424 pages (hardcover)
2016, Sky Pony Press
ISBN: 9781510706187 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: November, 18 2016
I received this book for free from Sky Pony Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.
In an alternate version of Victorian England, time is controlled by clock towers and if one is destroyed, a whole town could be stopped, its citizens trapped, possibly forever. At seventeen, Danny Hart is one of the youngest mechanics to earn his license to maintain clock towers and the flow of time they create. His father is trapped in a stopped town and Danny is desperate to get a position working on the new tower being built, in hopes that it will free the town and his father. But Danny’s obsession with the new tower has instead landed him in the small town of Enfield with a tower that seems to have one problem after another. There Danny meets a mysterious boy who turns out to be a clock spirit and as Danny falls head over heels for him, he’ll risk everything he’s worked for in order for them to be together.
I was very excited about the premise of this book. I love steampunk stories and with the added elements of clock spirits and a gay protagonist, I figured this book would really wow me. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for any of the characters and that left the story feeling lackluster.
Danny felt less like a character and more like a stereotype. Rather possessing a solid personality that evoked empathy in me for his situation, Danny felt whiny and almost pathetic. He felt people around him were treating him like a child, but he was acting like one. That, paired with the fact that his homosexuality felt more like a stereotypical personality trait than a real part of who he was, made it very hard for me to immerse myself in his life. He is also apparently a prodigy at repairing these clocks, yet (aside from the very end of the book where he randomly develops superpowers) we’re never given any evidence of this other than people talking about how he’s the youngest mechanic ever.
Colton, the clock spirit, didn’t stand out either. He’s essentially a pretty boy for Danny to fall “in love” with. He has no real personality other than curious, because he’s not human and so he doesn’t understand much about human life – despite saying he’s watched the people of his town for an unknowable amount of time. He feels overly innocent (or perhaps ignorant is the right word?) and it makes his relationship with Danny awkward and forced. Their bond borders on insta-love with Danny feeling immediately comfortable around Colton, which leads to them chatting a bit, and then suddenly they’re in love.
The story is mostly from Danny’s perspective, though it is broken up here and there by some interludes about the gods and how time was managed before it fell into human hands. There are also a couple random chapters voiced by a few of Danny’s enemies, but rather than deepen those characters, those chapters felt abrupt and left me wondering why we only heard from them once or twice.
I did like the idea of a clock tower controlling the time of the town it resided in and I found it interesting that a town could stop. I was fuzzy on the details of a stopped town though. Towards the end, we do get a feel for what it’s like inside a stopped town, but the rules of how they work seemed arbitrary and changeable based on what Danny needed to be able to accomplish.
The ending wrapped the book up with a neat bow and made me roll my eyes. Since I never cared for Danny, the conclusion wasn’t satisfying because at that point I didn’t care if he ended up with everything he wanted or not. I do have questions about how one maintains a relationship with someone who is actually made of time, but I don’t want to know badly enough to read another book, should this be made into a series. I wasn’t impressed, but I didn’t hate the book.
If you’re looking for a light, LGBT YA read with some steampunk and semi-magical elements thrown in, I’d recommend checking this out.
You can visit Tara’s website here.