This is a second book in a series and I have not read the first (or any other) book in this series. And I’m not likely to do so.
Elle Chance is married to former warlock Hugh Marsh and Elle spends her days completely focused on being the Oracle – who alone manages to keep the Shadow forces from invading. Hugh, on the other hand, is bored now that he doesn’t have his warlock duties to keep him busy, and so when he gets word that the London police could use his help solving a magical crime, he’s eager to jump back into the game. But something terrible happens to Hugh … his heart is removed and in its place is a clock-like device. Soon, London is crawling with heartless-running-by-clock people. Elle knows that the clocks are running down and she desperately needs to find and restore Hugh’s heart before the clock completely runs down.
This book holds a mildly interesting idea and mixes steampunk and urban fantasy and even paranormal romance in a melodramatic YA story. Such cross-genre blending has become rather common, though in 2013 this was likely a bit edgy – to not be pigeonholed in one category.
I recognize that this is YA, and I’ve read some really incredible young adult books, but I really felt that this one is written ‘down’ to the audience. The dialog is so full of telling and constant info dumps. Because it’s near the end of the book, this stood out to me, but I suspect I could find many similar examples throughout:
Inside each jar, suspended in the blue glowing liquid, was what appeared to be a pulsating human heart. And they all seemed to be beating in unison.
“There must be thousands of jars,” the professor said.
“There are,” _____ said “But sadly we have not quite managed to be up to full capacity just yet. But we are making progress.”
“Why are you doing all this?” Elle said.
______ laughed. “Oh, don’t be so stupid.”
“I want to hear you say it.” Elle steadily met her gaze, challenging ______ to continue.
“Well, if you must know…
Of course I’m trying not to give anything away here but this “Why…if you must know” type of dialog resonates throughout. Randomly flipping back through the book I easily spotted:
“Listen to this,” Mrs. Hinges said. “I spoke to… [and she proceeds to tell what she heard, which is more than I need to reprint here]
Elle and Loisa stared at her, uncomprehending.
“Don’t you see?” Mrs. Hinges said.
“Not really,” Loisa shook her head.
[And so she sums up what she just said.]
I had the strongest feeling that this was a self-published novel, based on what I considered such simple telling and dialog, and was surprised to see that this was published by a big name, popular sci-fi publisher. Unfortunately, books that lean toward a YA audience are too often ‘simplified’ which really isn’t necessary.
The premise was interesting. The execution wasn’t.
Looking for a good book? A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz is a second book in a series and takes a simple approach to a very interesting concept, which comes off much too easy.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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A Clockwork Heart
author: Liesel Schwarz
series: The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #2
publisher: Del Rey
hardcover, 304 pages