Review: Timekeeper by Tara Sim (2016)

“Danny had most certainly fallen down the rabbit hole. He didn’t know if he ever wanted to return.”

Timekeeper, Tara Sim

Rating: ★★★½
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Categories: M/M, alternate history

Content Warnings (highlight to read): N/A

Description: Danny is a clock mechanic, tasked with keeping the world’s clocktowers running in an alternate Victorian world. These clocktowers literally keep time: if a town’s tower is broken, time around it grows out of sync, or may even stop entirely, trapping those inside its influence in an infinite loop. When a series of bombings starts attacking clocktowers around England, Danny urgently works to solve the mystery, alongside a mysterious clock spirit that he becomes very invested in protecting.

Impression: I was delighted by the premise of this book , but a little underwhelmed by the execution. I didn’t want to stop reading at any point, and was invested enough in the characters to want to know how it ended, but felt myself really hoping for more of this or maybe not that throughout much of the book.

What I did like: the premise, as stated! A very cool idea. In a lot of ways, a very interesting execution, as well. The characters themselves (especially Colton, the love interest) were very charming. There are many worse ways to spend a few hours than introducing Colton into your life, and I did find the romantic thread of the story really held it together. There was at least one very memorable kiss, and I say this as someone who has read many, many kiss scenes.

What I could take or leave: The prose was clean but largely unremarkable. I skipped the “mythology” chapters wholesale since they dragged too much. I easily predicted more events and occurrences than I’d like to (a shame for a ‘mystery’), and found that a lot of the worldbuilding was just under-utilized and under-explored set dressing. Outside of the main two, character relationships were one-note or easily dismissed.

In the end, I have sort of an overall generally positive feeling because nothing really betrayed me or broke my heart, but also a sense of longing for the strengths of the book to hold up better. I’ll definitely read the sequel, if only because I am invested in the main pair, but I have a strong suspicion that the flaws of the first likely won’t be addressed (and will probably be compounded) by the second.


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