Narrative Style: Third person from various viewpoints. Some flashbacks but largely chronological.
Reading Challenges: Eclectic Reader Challenge 2016
Synopsis: Thaniel Steepleton returns home to find that someone has broken in but instead of stealing anything, they have left him a watch. A watch which does not open. At least not straightaway. Six months later, the watch opens and starts to tell time. Later, that day, when its alarm goes of, it saves him from a bomb. When Thaniel goes to find the watchmaker, he meets Mori, a Japanese immigrant. He seems harmless enough but why do the police think he may be involved with the bomb makers?
This is my first attempt at reading in the steampunk genre and it wasn’t entirely successful. There was a lot of promise in this book. The appearance of the watch was mysterious and when it saves Thaniel’s life, it becomes even more interesting. Certainly, the start of the book had promise and at first, I was keen to read on.
When Thaniel meets Mori, it is clear that he has been expected and straightaway, the reader is led to believe there is some mystery surrounding him. His mastery of clockwork is almost beyond imagining. (I really liked his clockwork octopus which was forever stealing Thaniel’s socks.) Thaniel takes to him straightaway so when the police ask him to spy on Mori as part of their investigation into the bombing, he is torn but he agrees to do it.
It is at this point that the narrative starts to fall apart. Enter Grace Carrow, who its studying physics at Oxford (and has had some narrative attention so far. It is clear that she and Thaniel are intended to meet.) Grace is in an awkward position. She has been left money and a house but she must marry to get them. If she does not get them, she will have to give up physics and become a school teacher. Almost immediately after meeting, Thaniel agrees to marry her so she can inherit, on the promise that his nephews can go to a good school. Grace and Mori are both suspicious of each other and it becomes a battle for Thaniel’s feelings.
I didn’t find the narrative very convincing from this point onwards . It seemed a waste of what could have been an interesting exploration into free will and predestination as it becomes apparent that Mori has some form of second sight. The characters were somewhat flat and Thaniel was a bit colourless for a hero. Grace was more interesting but still woefully under drawn. Events stretched my willingness to believe to the absolute limit.
Having said all that, I think it is a genre I would like and I would be interested in reading more steampunk books. If anyone has any recommendations, I would like to hear them.