Disclaimer: I’ve never before read a steampunk novel or related work of fiction, so I am completely free from any bias as to how things “should be” within this genre. It was one of those Kindle offers that I got, and on a whim thought “steampunk, why not?”
So, that being said I did enjoy my first foray into a steampunk universe very much. It’s full of adventure, interesting clothes and customs, colourful descriptions of airships and floating cities, pirates, djinns and people and animals made entirely out of clockwork.
While the characters and the story is interesting in itself, another dimension is added in the form of them having various forms of what is called “sight”. For instance, the titular character, Twist can immediately tell through touch how a thing or person is broken and how to fix them. While this serves him well in his carefully controlled little world as a clockmaker in Victorian London, it’s slightly more inconvenient when he’s whisked away aboard an airship full of strange characters, to repair and rescue the legendary clockwork princess. You see, the sight is not voluntary, which means that whenever Twist touches another person, flashes from events – often painful or embarrassing (as it has to have something to do with what “broke” them) – from that persons life will rise unbidden before his eyes. Not only does this mean that he’s privy to some very personal information about people he doesn’t know that well, but it also affects him emotionally and physically – he takes on some of the pain he can feel through the memories presented to him. Other characters in the story have sight that works in different ways, but there’s always a duality to it. I found this an interesting plot device and it worked well in the universe the author has created.
There were some minor things in the writing style that bothered me, like the author’s insistence on using “toned” instead of “said” (it’s weird, it doesn’t work, just stop it). But overall I found it well written, easy to read, and I loved the vivid descriptions of people and places.
I also liked that though there’s a budding romance it wasn’t overwrought and it’s also not entirely clear (to me at least) which way it will go.
Generally this is a fun and light adventure, with something happening on every page. But if you’re looking for something deep and meaningful, steer clear – this is pure escapism (and there’s nothing wrong with that!)
At some point I’ll pick up the next instalment – but for now, too many books, too little time…