This book is part of LT3 Press’ Solitary Traveler’s collection, which includes novels and novellas with asexual and aromantic characters. You can find more about that here. I will be reviewing these stories throughout the next month, so keep an eye out!
Blood and Clockwork, by Katey Hawthorne
Part of the Solitary Traveler’s Collection
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: March 16, 2016
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Alistair Click set out to lay to rest the superstitious fears about the Mad Prince’s clockwork tower. If that meant he might bring the ghost city of Avalonia back to economic life, connecting the western kingdoms once again, so much the better. So what if no adventurer who’d entered the tower in the last century of desolation had ever re-emerged? They didn’t have his skill and wit. He could do better.
The tower turns out to be far more than Alistair expected, however. Not only are there clockwork puzzles to open every door, but one of them drops a boy from a strange world into his lap—figuratively speaking, if only just. Marco Murphy was just gaming in his New Jersey apartment, and now he’s stuck in what feels like a never ending LARP nightmare.
The deeper they delve into the Mad Prince’s tower, the darker the secrets they uncover. They’re not entirely sure they’ll ever be able to get out again, either. It’ll take all Marco’s charm and Alistair’s cleverness, plus the strange bond growing between them, to get them out together… and alive.
Asexual (Homoromantic) Character
Blood and Clockwork is an incredibly intriguing concept, with highly relatable characters and an interesting relationship dynamic. But while I think the story had a lot of things going for it, I ultimately really struggled to be absorbed in the plot and to fully understand and visualize the events happening on the page.
I’ll start with what I did like about the novel: the culture clash. The main character, Alistair, is a talented clockwork engineer in a steampunk universe. When he accidentally pulls Marco into his world from our own, there’s a really fun overlap as they try to figure out what’s going on. Alistair trying to puzzle through Marco’s phrases had me giggling, and Marco’s initial confusion when he arrived was outright hilarious.
The relationship itself was a mixed boat for me. I did really enjoy seeing two men from different worlds becoming friends, and realizing that they’re compatible as a potential relationship. But it was definitely insta-love, and I just didn’t buy it. And while I can’t say more without spoilers, I will say that I thought it was unrealistic the more it progressed.
But the biggest issue I had was trying to visualize what was happening in the story. I was confused more often than not; it made for a very slow read, as I kept having to go back and make sure I hadn’t missed anything. I think the author had a very clear image in her head while writing, but it didn’t fully translate over in description and imagery.
If you enjoy steampunk, I think you might enjoy this story, but personally it wasn’t a story that I was able to enjoy as much as I would have liked.
Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of dark fiction and superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in the D.C. Metro Area. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills.
You can find Katey on her website at http://www.kateyhawthorne.com/ and on Goodreads.
You can buy Blood and Clockwork from the Publisher!
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.