The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson

clockI feel like I’m having a lot of luck with my books at the moment, like the God of Good Books is shining down on me and the Clockwork Dynasty is yet another fine example of that happy book streak that I’m currently enjoying.  I feel like I’ve been waiting to read this book for quite a while now.  I loved the description and lets just be honest that cover also deserves a little shout out for being so captivating and so I”m pleased to say this one worked out really well for me.

The Clockwork Dynasty is a story told using a dual time line that spans the ages and travels across continents.  It’s fast paced and entertaining and manages to bring to the table a story of immortals unlike any I’ve read about before.  These immortals don’t have fangs or drink blood.  Their internal works are clockwork mechanisms and although they have learned to walk amongst us undetected they are far from human.  Their strange ‘other worldliness’ has given rise over the centuries to many superstitions and myths.  The fact that they are secretive and usually walk abroad at night, they don’t seem to breath or eat and their skin is pale – you can see why myths of vampires and the like sprang up in their wake.  Known as Avtomat these clockwork beings have existed for eons, so long in fact that they’ve lost not only some of their memory but also their purpose.  Each of them follows their own route, dictated by a word engraved within their internal mechanisms.  Unfortunately, for many this purpose has become distorted over the years leading to differences in opinion and eventual war between the differing avtomats.  Their existence still remains a secret to date and they guard this secrecy in the strongest possible terms killing any that discover their identities.

So, what did I enjoy about this?  I really enjoyed the dual time line.  I realise this might not be a style choice that works for everyone but I think it’s been really well executed here and manages to bring together two different storylines in a very satisfactory way.  I think this style can sometimes be jarring for readers being pulled from one thread to another but I can genuinely say that I enjoyed both storylines so much that I never had any problems going from one to the other.

As the book begins we are introduced to a young girl, June Stefano.  Her grandfather relates to her a fantastic story of his own war time experience, a story so incredible that nobody would believe it.  He’s kept this story (together with a relic that he found at the time) secret for years fearing discovery and not quite trusting others with the knowledge. He swears June to secrecy and the story and relic pass into her ownership when her grandfather passes away.  This aspect of the story is what leads June on a quest for knowledge and brings her into her current role where she scours the world in search of similar mechanical pieces.  June has become an expert in these mechanical robots, although she little understands what they truly are and the revelation of their actual existence places her in great danger.

We then flit back to 1720’s Russia where a young mechanician is in the process of restoring two mechanical figures to present to the Tsar.  Pyotr (or Peter as he becomes known later on) and his sister Elena.  Their story is fascinating to read about.  When they are first restored they have no memory of their previous existence.  All they can remember is the word that guides their behaviour.   After the Tsar dies of illness the two are forced to flee the palace and remain hidden.  For many years they struggle to survive, faced with hostility and aggression they also have to hide their true nature and try to pass as human, which is never easy when neither of them show any signs of ageing.  This aspect of the story gave me strong Interview with a Vampire vibes – almost as though the author has used that fictional story, almost as though it was a fact, to retell of how the vampire myth really began and to reveal that the real immortals are actually these mechanical beings known as Avtomat.

Eventually Peter will appear in June’s storyline, it was inevitable really given her search for the secrets of these automated devices, and the two of them travel the world looking for answers and seemingly racing against the clock.

The Clockwork Dynasty is well written and makes for a compelling read.  The story has the double whammy of a contemporary story that delivers plenty of pace and action tempered by a thread that brings a wealth of history into play.  The characters are easy to engage with and throughout the read these is a sense of urgency to discover the secrets that the Avtomat themselves are trying to get to the bottom of.

The only niggles I had were a slight let up of pace about two thirds in – although that was only a temporary blip and a nagging question at the back of my mind that begged why the avtomat couldn’t simply update their bodies and faces to either age or appear to grow older.  But, this wasn’t enough to prevent my enjoyment in any way.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definitely read more by this author.  This is a story that brings to us a new kind of immortal that was refreshingly original, I would certainly pick up more and can see plenty of scope for further stories.

I received a copy of Clockwork Dynasty courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

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