Book: Clockwork Heart
Author: Dru Pagliassotti
Category: Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Series: Book 1
Taya soars over Ondinium on metal wings. She is an icarus — a courier privileged to travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately among its castes. But even she can’t outfly the web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and intrigue that snares her after a daring mid-air rescue. Taya finds herself entangled with the Forlore brothers, scions of an upperclass family: handsome, brilliant Alister, who sits on the governing council and writes programs for the Great Engine; and awkward, sharp-tongued Cristof, who has exiled himself from his caste and repairs clocks in Ondinium’s lowest sector. Both hide dangerous secrets, in this city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart…
I picked up Clockwork Heart after Thea of The Book Smugglers talked about how much she loved it. You can read Thea's review here.
Clockwork Heart follows Taya. She is an icarus, a messenger that travels from place to place in the city of Ondinium delivering messages with the use of metal wings. Ondinium is a city populated with people of different caste's. The caste Taya falls into, along with the rest of the Icarus, is a middle ground of sorts between the upper and lower caste's. After saving an upper-caste Exalted woman and her child from certain death, Taya gets pulled into a web intrigue centered around the family of the Exalted woman she saved.
The cast is an eclectic mix of characters, ranging in caste and personality. Taya interacts with fellow Icarus,--Exalteds who are the highest of caste's. They wear masks and long robes to hide themselves from other castes. Lictors, the caste that serve as Ondinium's law force. Programmers, those who work on the machines in Ondinium, and more--while uncovering a mystery surrounding the Great Engine, the machine that keeps Ondinium running. While a few of the characters are barely peripheral there are those who stand out, the most notable of them are two Exalted brothers, Alister and Cristof.
Christof is an outcaste: an Exalted that has left his station to live a regular unmasked life. He is thought of as a freak, for only someone crazy would willingly walk away from being an Exalted. He spends more time working on and repairing clocks than he does with people. He is awkward in appearance, described as being tall and gawky, crow-like. He has a bad temperament and complete lack social grace. Alister is the complete opposite of his brother. He is suave, debonair and handsome and unlike his outcaste brother, embraces his station as Exalted.
At the heart of this story is an unassuming romance between Taya and the outcaste Christof. As Taya fell for Christof, I did as well. All of his oddness made him an endearing character. Taya herself is a root-for character. She makes mistakes, she sometimes thinks too much with her heart, but she is strong, brave and unknowingly charming.
Clockwork Heart was a very enjoyable book. Though the initial mystery was fairly easy to figure out, and the villain was expected, the simple yet intricate details of the world kept me turning the pages. And I loved that after the main plot is somewhat resolved, the story took an unexpected turn and explored a less predictable subplot. Clockwork Heart was an interesting mix of generas. Overall, it is fantasy, but fell into the subgeneras of steampunk, mystery and romance. All of these elements, rolled into one book, made it a different, but very entertaining read. I look forward to Ms. Pagliassotti's future books. Grade B+.
More info and excerpt.