Timekeeper by Tara Sim, Published by Sky Pony Press, ARC received through Sunday Street Team.
“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.”
The first thing that grabbed me about Timekeeper was the premise: instead of time running clocks, like it does in the real world, the clocks actually ran time.
That initial premise that I was so excited by in the summary led to some seriously cool worldbuilding. There’s the whole principle of the clocks, yes, but another thing we see in this book is that due to the clocks in this world, the industrial revolution happened early. So yes, Victorian gender roles are still a thing, but they’re not as much of a thing. One thing I often dislike about historical fiction is that it sometimes feels like it gets hung up on the facts of the time a little too much and that makes it boring or tedious for me. (The girls are either totally excepting of their life or are a huge “rebel.” There’s no in between. Meh) But, as a historical fantasy Timekeeper was able to make its own rules, which was fun.
One thing I didn’t like was the changing perspective in the book. I found it pretty jarring. In the first half of the book, the narrator was always Danny. Then, around the second half of the book, different perspectives start to be thrown in. We hear from different mechanics and see things that Danny certainly couldn’t have seen and it was just a little weird. I get that it was important information, but I think it could have been done a better way.
I also didn’t love the storybook bits of the mythology or “history” of the clocks. Again, important information, but the delivery was jarring. I wanted more world building, and those bits did sort of provide it, but not as much of it as I really wanted. I still have so many questions.
Everything else, however, was solidly great. The characters were different and fun, and the plot was really engaging. The romance was pretty cool too, and I’m glad it wasn’t part of every aspect of the plot. Overall: a great steampunky read.