Clockwork Heart: A Penny Dreadful Review
Somewhere in the multiverse lies Ondinium, a stratified city-state powered by a lighter-than-air element and governed by a council advised by an enormous analytical engine. Above this society, between the rigid castes, flit the Icarii, messengers with fantastic clockwork wings. Behold the wonders of Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliasotti.
By chance, the heroine Taya, one of the Icarus messengers, happens to be in a position to rescue a woman and her child from the Exalted caste – the city’s leaders – from a sabotaged cable car. She finds herself drawn in to the investigation and the politics of the upper caste. The sabotaged wire ferry was only the beginning…
The characters in this book are fantastic. From the dour clockmaker Cristof to Taya’s conspiracy nut friend Pyke, each and every one seems alive and nuanced. You could easily believe that they go about their lives when you close the book, loving, reading, and shopping.
The world-building, too, is great. The technology is described well enough to give the reader a good idea of what it looks like and how it works, but not in such detail that it slows down the plot. The caste system might be a little confusing at first, because the way this society is set up seems so alien to most readers, but by the time the reader hits chapter two, he or she has a good idea of how Ondinium works. The exposition is masterfully handled. In the hands of a lesser writer, the complexities of this fantastic world might be clumped together in awkward chunks of text, but in the hands of Dru Pagliassotti, the information is seamlessly integrated into the narrative.
My only complaint is that this book isn’t long enough! Clockwork Heart leaves me wanting so much more. It is a fantastic taste of an entirely new world, and I, like Taya, want to travel and explore the whole thing.
I give this excellent book five gears out of five, and would venture to say that it is essential to any Steampunk reading list. The best thing about Clockwork Heart is that it is the first of a series.
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather