Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Few Thoughts On A Clockwork Heart by Leisel Schwarz


FOR BETTER OR CURSE.  That might as well have been the wedding vow of Elle Chance and her new husband, the ex-Warlock Hugh Marsh in the second book of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into storytelling magic.

As Elle devotes herself to her duties as the Oracle—who alone has the power to keep the dark designs of Shadow at bay—Marsh finds himself missing the excitement of his former life as a Warlock. So when Commissioner Willoughby of the London Metropolitan police seeks his help in solving a magical mystery, Marsh is only too happy to oblige. But in doing so, Marsh loses his heart . . . literally.

In place of the flesh-and-blood organ is a clockwork device—a device that makes Marsh a kind of zombie. Nor is he the only one. A plague of clockwork zombies is afflicting London, sowing panic and whispers of revolution. Now Elle must join forces with her husband’s old friend, the Nightwalker Loisa Beladodia, to track down Marsh’s heart and restore it to his chest before time runs out.

Del Rey | August 13, 2013 | 304 pages

My Thoughts
  • A Clockwork Heart is the second novel in Leisel Schwarz's Chronicle of Light and Shadow series.  The series begins with A Conspiracy of Alchemists (click here to read my review).
  • Like the first novel in the series, the heroine of A Clockwork Heart is Elle Chance, who serves as the Oracle.  As the Oracle it is Elle's responsibility to keep the Shadow forces from gaining power over the Light.  
  • One of the things I liked best about A Conspiracy of Alchemists was the characterization of Elle, who was a heroine easy to root for.  Unfortunately, the Elle presented at the beginning of A Clockwork Heart doesn't come across anywhere near as likeable as the Elle from the first book did.  In fact, the Elle of this novel rather annoyed me, at least initially, given her unwillingness to compromise with her new husband, a man who willingly gave up his powers as a warlock in order to spend his life with her.   
  • I really enjoyed the supporting characters in this novel, especially nightwalker Loisa Beladodia.  My favourite character is Adele the absinthe fairy - I really wish she'd had a larger role in the story!
  • I thought the conflict between Light and Shadow in this novel, one that centres around the creation of a zombie-like army of humans whose hearts have been replaced by a clockwork device, was fairly well done and that the villain was sufficiently creepy.  I especially liked that Schwarz wasn't afraid to transform Hugh, a key character of the series, into one of the clockwork zombies.   It is this transformation that drives the plot of the novel. 
  • The ending of this novel was not at all what I expected it would be, but that's a good thing.   While I wasn't as fond of the Elle of A Clockwork Heart as I was of the Elle of A Conspiracy of Alchemists, the ending of this latest book, while not a cliffhanger, has definitely left me curious to know where the series is going next. 
  • Since I'm not all that well-read in the steampunk genre - the only other novels I've read within the genre are Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate books - I'm not sure how much of Schwarz's world (if any) follows any sort of steampunk convention.   I do enjoy the world Schwarz has created and for this reason will pick up any future novels in the series. 
  • While A Clockwork Heart would work as a stand alone novel, if you are interested in this series I recommend starting with A Conspiracy of Alchemists

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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