CHAINBREAKER | Tara Sim
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Available in Canada through Thomas Allen & Son
Retail Price (CAD): $29.99 HC
Pub. Date: January 2, 2018
Today I have the pleasure of reviewing Chainbreaker, the second novel in Tara Sim’s steampunk Timekeeper Trilogy. The first book unfolded in an alternate Victorian England, and featured tender friendships, queer romance, and fascinating worldbuilding where ancient clock towers literally control time–and stop it completely if destroyed. Book 2 expands the scope of the character relationships and the level of adventure as it takes protagonist Danny, frenemy Daphne, and even the clock spirit Colton to India, where clock towers have begun falling, though time hasn’t stopped yet…
Clock mechanic Danny Hart knows he’s being watched. But by whom, or what, remains a mystery. He hoped that after reuniting with his father and exploring his relationship with Colton, he would have some time to settle into his new life. Instead, he’s asked to investigate the attacks in India. After inspecting some of the fallen towers, he realizes the British occupation may be sparking more than just attacks. And as Danny and Colton unravel more secrets about their past, they find themselves on a dark and dangerous path—one from which they may never return.
Chainbreaker begins by deepening Danny’s relationships: his romance with the clock spirit Colton, his reunion with his father, and his growing friendship with rival clock mechanic Daphne. The action of the novel really gains traction in the second half of the novel, when the characters reach India, clock towers keep falling, and planes, trains, and perilous escapes add a dash Indiana Jones flavour to the plot! It all comes together in a climax where revolution, hidden agendas, and kidnapping combine to set the stage for the final book in the series.
Bad guys! I don’t have time for this!
I greatly enjoyed how Sim developed the character of Colton the clock spirit in Chainbreaker. Bound to his home town of Enfield for much of the first book, Colton grows in experience and courage in Book 2, traveling to India and pushing the limits of his ethereal form to do whatever it takes to protect Danny. Colton’s understanding of his own past grows as well—in dark and compelling fashion. We learn the gut-wrenching truth about the origin of the clock towers and their spirits, a truth that could unravel the role of the clock mechanics, the means of controlling time, and the safety of the entire world.
Daphne also confronts her origins in the novel, or more specifically, she confronts her confusion over what counts as her origins. Though pale-skinned and blonde, Daphne is half-Indian and understandably struggles with the tension between experiencing her father’s culture and trespassing as a born-and-raised Brit. Sim herself is half-Indian and the author’s experience undoubtedly shaped the way Daphne grapples with her liminal identity.
The **SPOILER ALERT** novel also introduces an intriguing new antagonist—Zavier, a young man with an enormous airship and a mission from the gods. Zavier’s intentions lie in an area as grey as his eyes; he stalks and threatens Danny throughout the novel but rightly reveals that many of Danny’s new-found friends have ulterior motives of their own.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s–probably Zavier! (photo: https://tinyurl.com/y85txmg7
As I would have hoped, the series continues to crescendo in intensity. The first novel focused on a town’s struggle against tampered time. This second book ties the clock towers into sweeping political rebellions, and the third promises action of mythic proportions as Danny, Zavier, and the others draw closer to the truth about their Time Gods.
Book 3, Firestarter, is currently scheduled for publication in November and time can’t move fast enough!
How do you get your hands on Chainbreaker? Click below for your chance to win a hard cover copy!
(Canadian residents only.)