Monday, March 30, 2015

Flights, Chimes, and Mysterious Times

I can't tell you how much I wanted to spell the title "Flyghts, Chymes, and Mysterious Tymes" because it's steampunkier.  Plus, I also read way too much Chaucer Doth Tweet on Twitter.



Emma Trevayne's Flights, Chimes, and Mysterious Times started out so well!  And then ... it meandered ... over thataway ... and back this-a-way, until BOOM!  THE END!



In Victorian London, Jack Foster lives a relatively pampered life.  His family is wealthy, I suppose,  and would like for him to grow up a gentleman.  Jack, however, prefers tinkering with clockwork and generally doing ungentlemanly things and eating ungentlemanly foods like porridge and cottage pie.  Having been born to two people who would raahlly prehfehhh just sitting around chatting and conveniently forgetting that there is a child somewhere in the family, he gets super-excited when his mother's latest Spiritualist offers to take him on as an apprentice.

Now we all know that this Spiritualist is, in fact, a Nefarious Villain.  He's got two main things against him:

  1. His name is "Lorcan Havelock."  Since this book is not about wild love on the moors or werewolves, that name defaults to "villain."
  2. We are treated to his internal Nasty Person Monologuing about stealing a child for his mistress, The Lady.  Soo, yeah.  Bad guy.
After various attempts to lure Jack along with him, Havelock gets what he wants when Jack follows him through a portal in the Tower of London.  Havelock also gets a Dumb Villain Award for this, because he doesn't even notice.  He has what he wanted and doesn't even know.  Some super-perceptive villain he is.

Jack finds himself in a London without sun.  It's smoggy and sooty and people all seem to be missing at least one limb.  As he wanders the streets of this city, called Londinium, he encounters a cheery clockwork girl named Beth sitting in a giant birdcage (as one does, I suppose, when one is a clockwork person).  She takes him home to her maker, a doctor, and there they live merrily until Havelock realizes that Jack is in his universe.  Hangings ensue, and Jack goes to live with the Lady as her surrogate son in order to stop the killings.

This is really where everything gets rushed and starts making even less sense.  

The Lady is human, but with magical powers (I don't even know how/why).  She has a mad desire for children who are human like her, without a clockwork limb in sight.  Unfortunately, these are rather hard to come by, so she's been stealing them from neighboring London.  Havelock was once her human son, but as he aged, he fell out of favor.  He mysteriously found a way to stop aging (the Lady doesn't age, again, for reasons unknown) and has been plotting to get back into her favor all while acting the faithful minion.  

Jack is in the Lady's "family" for a blessedly short period of time, during which he manages to forget not only his real family back in London (although they really weren't winners, so I can't blame him too much), but also his new friends in Londinium who genuinely care for him.  What an ungrateful little brat.  

In the end, this random myth comes out of left field, and the random myth is actually a clockwork bird called the Gearwing that grants wishes and destroys itself and keeps the kingdom whole and hale.  

Pay no attention to the random development of this thing being called "the plot!"  In the span of like three chapters, Jack, Beth, and their friends locate all the scattered pieces of the Gearwing, put it together, and give it life.  Jack can now go home again (no place like home, yawn) and Beth goes to the castle to live with the Lady, because ... I honestly have no idea.  Jack just assumes that now the Lady will not hate clockwork people anymore.


To riff on my girl Elizabeth Bennet, the more I contemplate this book, the more I am dissatisfied with it.  The pacing is wildly off, and the characters are flat archetypes with little to recommend themselves to the reader.  Many praise the cover, but the artwork is so dark with very little contrast that I don't find it eye-catching at all.  

Give this one a pass.

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