Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Timekeeper is a slow burn story set in an intriguing alternative universe world. Author Sim explores some interesting concepts but the book is somewhat let down by an underwritten romance and lack of impetus. But there is a nice mystery at the heart and the book follows a complete arc without ending on a cliffhanger.

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Story: In an alternate universe Edwardian England, time is controlled by a network of central clock towers – most in towns or cities. Danny is a clock mechanic and a lonely soul mourning the loss of his father who, after an accident, was trapped out of time. On an assignment to fix a faulty town clock, he inexplicably comes into contact with a fabled clock spirit. But there are those both within the mechanics organization and those without who are sabotaging clocks. Danny will have to find the mystery behind his father’s accident – and also prevent the same from happening to himself or the clock spirit with whom he has become obsessed.

The story is told in a very passive manner and certainly the languid pace does create a hurdle for engaging a reader. By the end, there is plenty of action but most will have figured out the answer to the mystery fairly early on. Certainly, the villain is meant to be multilayered but somehow feels a bit cliche. As such, this is more about the journey than it is figuring out the person setting bombs in the clocks.

Although the main character Danny was fairly well fleshed out, most other characters were paper thin. What that means is that Danny’s relationship with the clock spirit felt very much in the ‘insta-luv’ category. First meeting goes straight to a kiss and then abruptly ends until the next day. I would have believed the romance a bit more if it had been built up in a different way or if it had built up independently of a lot of Danny’s moping about his situation and his unhappiness with life.

The writing is solid if fairly uninspired. Readers won’t find a lot of purple prose so much as plenty of ‘feelz’ throughout. That can make the story/characters feel somewhat simplistic as a result. But Timekeeper is also a fairly quick read that answers a lot of questions by the end but also sets up nicely for the next book in the trilogy. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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