The Clockwork Dynasty is a very interesting steampunk novel that I requested from Netgalley on whim and ended up loving! The story follows two different stories set in two different timelines that are intertwined. The first follows Peter and Elena, two siblings in 1770s Russia with a secret about who they are and how they endure. The second is set in the present day and follows an anthropologist who specializes in historical technology and finds a secret in a three-hundred-old mechanical doll. June, the anthropologist, ends up setting out on the adventure of a lifetime, accompanied by a stranger with an unbelievable secret.
I’ve always admired steampunk aesthetic, but this is the first steampunk-ish novel I think I’ve really read. I found the worldbuilding to be fascinating, and I would honestly love a sequel that just explored the history of the world. It was amazingly well written and fairly well developed. I loved the politics of the society uncovered by June, and the inner workings of just what that society means to ours. I found the concepts behind the society and its inhabitants very interesting and thought provoking as well. I’m not sure if there’s a sequel planned, but I would love to read anything else I could get my hands on from this world. I also realize I’m being super vague, but I’m really trying not to give anything away!
I also felt like the tandem stories were very effective. The past allowed me to draw conclusions about the present and vice versa. Once I had read enough to draw a conclusion, I was usually treated with the answer to whether I was right in the next chapter. The stories work beautifully together, but the best part was that either likely could’ve stood on its own. The pacing is good. It starts out a little slow, and then it’s not slow at all for the rest of the book really. I was also very fascinated by the characters, particularly those from the secret society I referenced earlier. Elena was really the character I was most fascinated by. Her life and yearning for things beyond what she can have was rather poetic, and you could just feel her wistfulness coming through the page, as well as the impact her life has on Peter’s. I really want to read more about them!
Overall, this was an amazingly well done science fiction/steampunk novel. The world building is excellent. The characters are intriguing, and it was really hard to put down. I don’t read a ton of books like this, but it was so well-written and well-done that I’ll probably check out the rest of Wilson’s books as well. While I’m doing that, I’ll just be really hopeful that there is a sequel or more stories or anything set in this world. Wonderful!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Note: I received this book from Netgalley & the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What other steampunk books have you read/would you recommend? Let me know in comments!