Review Blog

Sep 26 2019

The Clockill and the thief by Gareth Ward

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Walker Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760651206. 346p; p/b.
(Age: 11+) Themes: Steampunk, Spies, Secrecy, Betrayal. In this sequel to the award winning The traitor and the thief, spy-in-training Sin has to hunt down an old nemesis while suffering from the side effects of a dangerous experiment. The first book set up both the characters and the setting so it is important to read the books in order as character writing is not this novel's strong suit. Minor characters are often reduced entirely to a bad accent, and even major characters have quite inconsistent character voices.
The plot is almost entirely action based and is paced with appropriate down time and rising action. The novel doesn't have much to say overall in terms of themes, relying on its action for impact. There's an undercurrent where Sin is supposed to feel bad for 'always being the hero' instead of letting Jasper improve, but it is completely undermined by Jasper always seeming to really need the help, shutting down in life-threatening situations.
The novel is set in some alternate version of Earth, with a 'steampunk' technology level. The original book The traitor and the thief established the world, giving it location names that are adaptations of the real thing. These and other fantasy vocabulary are meant to set the world apart, but for me it only shackles the setting closer to real life.
Vincent Hermann

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