Saturday, 14 July 2012

Review: Timepiece

Timepiece by Heather Albano

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got this as a "people who liked this also bought" recommendation from Amazon, based on having bought books by Lindsay Buroker. I can kind of see why. The main character is an adventurous young woman who's defying gender roles, and it's ever-so-slightly steampunky, though a bit less than Buroker if anything.

One of the mistakes that an author can easily make with a book like this is to go over-the-top with the heroine's capabilities or suddenly pull out abilities that are unrealistic. Heather Albano managed to avoid that, clearly establishing in advance her ability to do everything she ends up doing and showing that it wasn't easy or straightforward for her. This not only makes the action believable, but it also increases suspense: Is she going to make it?

The romance wasn't too rushed or overdone, either. It's pretty obvious to me who Maxwell's parents were, but it's not obvious to the characters, and I found that believable.

Time travelers altering the outcome of Waterloo (which is apparently notorious for the number of ways it could have gone differently) is a good centre to build the book around. I liked the idea of what are effectively Frankenstein's monsters multiplying and becoming weapons that turned in the hand that wielded them (it makes no biological sense, but if you can skip over that it makes all kinds of story sense). The Victorian mecha and the struggling underground in a Britain in the grip of totalitarian overlords were nicely judged.

In fact, the whole book was well-constructed, the ideas were original, the characters believable and the prose well-written and well-edited. I'm not personally a big fan of dark and dystopian, as a matter of personal taste, which is why I only give four stars instead of five. I know I'm near one end of a spectrum of taste there, so for many people this may well be a five-star read.

I'll be subscribing on Albano's website to be notified when the next one comes out (it's due soon).

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