I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
In 1883, Thaniel returns to his tiny flat to find a gold pocket-watch on his pillow. When the watch saves Thaniel's life from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori – a kind, lonely immigrant who sweeps him into a new world of clockwork and music.
Meanwhile, Grace Carrow is sneaking into an Oxford library dressed as a man. A theoretical physicist, she is desperate to prove the existence of the luminiferous ether before her mother can force her to marry. As the lives of these three characters become entwined, events spiral out of control until Thaniel is torn between loyalties, futures and opposing geniuses.
I don't know how I feel about this book as a whole; I didn't love it but it sucked me in completely and it stayed with me. So, to break it down:
I hate Grace. She is awful and selfish.
I love Mori's clockwork shop - it's so vivid in my mind's eye and it's metallically magical.
I am in LOVE with Katsu, Mori's clockwork octopus; I'm not alone in this, he steals the entire book and I'm more than a little peeved with the author. I want a Katsu - possibly more than I want a dodo named Pickwick.
I liked Thaniel and Mori, Mori probably a bit more. For all the time we spend with Thaniel he remains elusive; I came away with a much better understanding of Mori, a character who shares almost nothing.
I can say this with confidence: I think the author lost control of her story a bit. The bombing is the pivotal event that kicks the story off, but then completely falls away for the middle 2/3s of the book - it's never even mentioned - only to be wrapped up in a few lines of dialogue at the end. It feels like the middle 2/3s is the story she wanted to tell, but needed a prop to hold it up, then tacked a resolution to it onto the end as an afterthought. It's a weird superficiality in a book full of depth.
Would I recommend this? I don't know - it might be worth reading just for the clock work octopus!
(Note to those that fall to the right of conservative: this is not a book for you.)