Review: Timekeeper

cover-timekeeperTitle: Timekeeper
Author: Tara Sim
Series: Timekeeper #1
Genre: YA M/M Steampunk
Length: Novel
Available: 8th Nov

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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.


Source: ARC from Sky Pony Press via NetGalley

This tale is part mystery, part romance all set in an alternative Victorian England with a very intriguing approach to time. Because time is actually a force in the world, one that needs to be controlled by clock towers, and if those towers and their clocks aren’t well maintain disaster can and will strike. Which is where our story begins, with Danny tending a clock from which two o’clock has vanished and the town’s time is getting messed up.

I enjoyed this book. I loved the concept of time being so prevalent, I liked Danny, I loved the idea of clock spirits, I liked the idea of the four old gods and how the towers helped control everything. The mystery was interesting enough to pull the story along and the romance between Danny and Colton is exceedingly sweet.

However, while the ideas are great, the development could have used a bit of work. A lot of detail has gone into the historical setting, even if liberties have been taken here and there because of the way such advanced clockwork have sped up society. That’s all fine, but I couldn’t quite wrap my head around when the towers were built, because they all sound rather Victorian (or at least early-Industrial Revolution) in design, which wouldn’t make them all that old, and made the idea of the old gods being almost entirely forgotten and the presence of our world religions seem rather odd to me. It was a detail that really didn’t fit – and if the clocks are (as is suggested) older, then surely civilisation would have advanced further and faster too.

The idea of Stopped places didn’t quite work either. I get that they fall out of time, but it’s shown that people can still move around inside them, it’s just that they don’t feel time moving. Why not? If things are being done and movement is happening, then surely time is passing. I also wonder just what those protesters think they’re protesting. Finding out more about their conspiracy theories might be interesting.

The other characters beyond Danny don’t get much development time. He is the focus. Which is fair enough, since quite a lot has happened to him in recent years and plenty more happens in this book. He is prone to moping, though, and his misery does make the tale drag at times. Things are fairly slow going for the most part, but thankfully the action picks up towards the end as various threads begin to unravel.

The romance is cute, very sweet and fairly aimless since neither Danny nor Colton seem to know what they want or what to do, but they’re adorable together. It might have been nice if Colton had more personality, but he’s still fairly new to this whole talking to people thing so I guess he has time to grow. I did, however, really like the inserted myths that cropped up every so often, telling tales of the old gods and Aetas in particular.

So overall this is a great idea leading to a good, if slow story, that does a reasonable job of setting up this world, even if it never quite developed as thoroughly as I would like. It does sometimes seem to get a bit confused over whether it’s a mystery or a romance, but by the end it shakes out well enough to produce an enjoyable read. I’d definitely be interested in seeing where this series heads next.


Timekeeper is out November 8th.
Visit Tara Sim for more details.

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