“You can’t force something to occur in the future because you’d like it to, just as you can’t go back and force the past to change. There are many branches of time reaching from your bodies - I can see them attached to one another. Humans call it fate, but it’s nothing so poetic as that. It’s simply time. Time, and the decisions you make as it passes, which in turn make history. When one decision becomes impossible, the thread snaps, leaving you fewer and fewer choices.
You won’t know until it happens, and that’s when you’ll know the right thing to do. Because it’ll be the only thing you can do. And that becomes your fate.”
It’s 1875 and clock towers rule an alternate-Victorian London. That is, until they begin falling apart.
Danny Hart knows all too well what can happen to a town with a damaged clock - his father has been trapped in a Stopped town for the last three years and Danny, a young and prolific clock mechanic, is doing all he can to save him. But Danny’s plans come to a halt when Enfield’s tower, the clock he’s been recently assigned to, shows signs of distress caused by the clock’s spirit - a young, golden-haired boy named Colton.
Meeting a clock spirit is rare, and falling in love with one has been known to get a mechanic exiled in the past. Danny finds himself in the middle of a dangerous attack against his relationship with Colton and, more importantly, time itself.
Tara Sim’s novel is a fascinating concept and adventure, and, though the plot struggles to find itself until the last hundred pages, readers will enjoy this nice introduction to the rest of the trilogy.
Timekeeper’s direction has a habit of falling into the background, sending readers on small goose chases because of the teenage protagonist. I found it difficult to relate to this London; this world has so much potential. Had the atmosphere been explored and developed, readers would find themselves drawn into a fantastical world where the threads of time could be seen and manipulated throughout Danny's arc and not just at the end. Readers might also feel cheated by Danny and Colton's quickly formed relationship and Colton’s inability to realize that by self-harming he, in turn, hurts the town around him.
However, though Danny’s romance with Colton has a few cracks in its foundation, it redeems itself in the end. Their relationship works only when they grow to realize they must accept the outcome of their story, even if it is not the outcome they may want for each other. Danny becomes the assured, dedicated hero I wished for him to be, and Colton finds that he can gain more by letting go. Though I do enjoy a bit of angst between my characters, I was thrilled to be able to see such a significant change between the two by the last page. Watching them grow into themselves and each other was a lovely experience.
What I found to be the most interesting aspect of Timekeeper was the starting and stopping of time similar to Martin Amis’s manipulation in Time’s Arrow. The characters find themselves repeating their actions unwillingly during the plot’s climax, and the reader finds themselves rereading the same sentences in a loop with an inability to stop it. I hope this is explored more in depth in the next book. I also appreciated the way the author thoughtfully portrays the young women in her story. Danny’s best friend, Cassie, is a strong force by his side, willing and ready to be Danny’s ear while simultaneously working under the hood of his broken auto.
It took a bit longer than expected to be drawn into Timekeeper, but, by the end, I realized I had been on quite an enjoyable adventure and look forward to what the next installment brings for Danny and Colton and myself.
*Many thanks to the publisher for this review copy!*