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Book Review: Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti

Blurb via Goodreads:

A steampunkish romantic fantasy set in Ondinium, a city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart. Taya, a metal-winged courier, can travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately among its castes. A daring mid-air rescue leads to involvement with two scions of an upperclass family and entanglement in a web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and secrets.

I liked Clockwork Heart. It’s steampunk. I can’t quite make up my mind whether it’s fantasy-type steampunk or science fiction-ish steampunk. Not that it matters overly much.

I liked Clockwork Heart for two reasons: the world building and the main character.

The world building is fantastic. The city and its inhabitants are made of castes, chosen after some test they take as teenagers. (I think as teenagers. Could be slightly earlier.) I didn’t see any hints that kid could be chosen into the ruling caste, but it seems possible to move in/out of the others after taking this test.

The main character is Taya, an icarus, someone who dons a flying suit and delivers messages. Like a glorified mailman. But the icarus caste are also trained in mid-air rescues. She is infinitely likeable. She falls into the company of an upper-class family as a result of a mid-air rescue that she did.

One thing I really, really liked are the computers. Most steampunk novels don’t have them. It’s called the Great Engine (there are a few smaller engines) and the programs are written on what sounds like punch cards. In my head, these computers are the size of whole rooms. Though the book talks about their gears and other steampunk-ish terms.

My favorite scenes:

1)      The mid-air rescue at the beginning of the book

It’s just so exciting. There is a heart-stopping fall. I have to say, I couldn’t perform stunts like that.

2)      The clockwork heart moment at the end of the book.

I expect the title comes from this last scene, and, yes, the title is quite perfect. This is the sweetest moment in the whole book.

The book is fast-paced, fresh and has a bit of a romance. Not much of one, maybe not enough to interest romance readers who mostly look for the romance. But it’s a strong subplot.

I just wish the main character’s motivations were clearer. She investigates the death of someone she was kind of having an affair with. For the sake of the plot, she has to do it.

But in emotional terms, I am not so sure it makes sense. She is sad and grieving and all. But she didn’t know him long enough to develop a strong attachment; he isn’t the love of her life. Plus, she falls in love with his brother so quickly afterward.

It’s almost like a setup for getting into a relationship with the brother. I just think it’s odd and now the whole relationship is stuck in my head.

BUT the book is enjoyable and fun to read. I look forward to a second book.