________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 3 . . . . September 20, 2013


Clockwork Heart.

Dru Pagliassotti.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2013.
306 pp., trade pbk. & e-Book, $15.95 (trade pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77053-026-3 (trade pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77053-027-0 (e-Book).

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

***½ /4



TAYA CUPPED AND FANNED her wings, slowing as the iron struts of a wireferry tower loomed before her. The massive construction blocked the gusting winds, and she sighed with relief as her thick boot soles hit the girder. Bending her knees to absorb the impact, she crouched and folded her arms, ducking into the safe harbor.

The wind in the wires sent vibrations thrumming through the metal under her feet, and the tower swayed. She locked her armature into tight-rest, tail feathers snapped up and wings tucked in. With a wriggle, she pulled her arms out of their struts and straps and looped a safety line from her harness around one of the narrow girders.

"Oh that's better," she groaned, rubbing her shoulders. She pulled off her flight goggles and wiped them against her sleeve, The glass was smeared with dead bugs and the inevitable greasy soot that collected whenever she flew past the city's refineries.

Taya is an icarus, one of the couriers on metallic wings who service the clockwork city of Ondinium. On one of her regular flights she becomes involved in the rescue of a member of the exalted class and her young son who are trapped high above ground in a wireferry car. For her involvement in the dangerous rescue, Taya becomes somewhat of a celebrity in a city divided into several rigid classes. There is a suspicion that what happened to the car was no accident but a deliberate attempt at an assassination.

      Taya becomes acquainted with two brothers of the highest caste, Alister the smooth-talking member of the city council, and the more awkward Cristof who has left his high position to mingle with the lower classes. The three become involved in a web of romance and intrigue where the reader is not certain who is the villain. There are several suspect groups: the Torn Cards, a local terrorist group, and the city's neighbours who are anxious to steal the city's many secrets, including that of flight.

      The description of the city and its culture is very well written, with the heart of the place run by giant gear-driven mechanical computers operated through metallic punch cards. Told through the eyes and thoughts of Taya, the courier, the characters are well developed with believable motives for their actions and differing opinions about their city. The description of the technology, politics, and the various castes and how they interact, is kept consistent.

      The first volume in a series, with 301 pages of story, a page of favourable reviews, a dedication, five pages of other titles by the publisher, and a four page preview of the second book, reaches a satisfactory conclusion leaving the reader eager for more. Clockwork Heart would appeal to fantasy readers who enjoy adventure and romance mingled with a touch of off-beat steampunk.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, a member of several writing groups, pens medieval-style fantasy and fantasy detective stories in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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