Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Alistair Click set out to lay to rest the superstitious fears about the Mad Prince’s clockwork tower. If that meant he might bring the ghost city of Avalonia back to economic life, connecting the western kingdoms once again, so much the better. So what if no adventurer who’d entered the tower in the last century of desolation had ever re-emerged? They didn’t have his skill and wit. He could do better.
The tower turns out to be far more than Alistair expected, however. Not only are there clockwork puzzles to open every door, but one of them drops a boy from a strange world into his lap–figuratively speaking, if only just. Marco Murphy was just gaming in his New Jersey apartment, and now he’s stuck in what feels like a never ending LARP nightmare.
The deeper they delve into the Mad Prince’s tower, the darker the secrets they uncover. They’re not entirely sure they’ll ever be able to get out again, either. It’ll take all Marco’s charm and Alistair’s cleverness, plus the strange bond growing between them, to get them out together… and alive.
When I finished Katey Hawthorne’s Blood and Clockwork, several things popped immediately to mind. First? What a spectacular world and engrossing plot! That Mad Prince’s clockwork tower? Spellbinding…literally. Step by step, I was peering over the shoulders of those wonderful characters, Alistair and Marco as they carefully maneuvered their way thru the mechanisms the Mad Prince has laid out before them. Be prepared to hold your breath.
And right on the heels of that thought? More, there needs to be more.
From the moment I meet brave, enterprising Alistair entering the deserted town of Avalonia, the reader comprehends he is someone special. How special emerges as the story unfolds. He wants the secrets to the Mad Prince’s clockwork tower that never seems to wind down, even centuries later in the middle of a city devoid of life. Others have tried and never returned. Alistair is determined to be the first. Be prepared to fall deeply in loved with this character. He’s intelligent, non-judgmental and open to life’s possibilities. Also very brave which helps with what’s about to come.
Surprisingly, the tower has another occupant. A visitor from another dimension. Marco, an artist from our world. Charming, easy going, intelligent and a perfect match for Alistair in ways that Alistair is not prepared for, this includes sexually. For Alistair is asexual and the discussion had between them is thoughtful, easy and open, another wonderful element here. Marco is stuck in the tower and has no way home. Together they must work as a team to solve the tower’s puzzles in order to send Marco home and let Alistair solve the riddle of the tower.
Sounds simple but its anything but as the terrific narrative will show. Marco will pull in some of his skills from his home world, Alistair will use his, and the combination is lovely, imaginative, occasionally funny, and heartwarming.
When the story finished, I was happy yes, but not completely satisfied. I wasn’t done with these two or their world. I felt as though we had just gotten started with each other. Surely this was but the first in many adventures right? Katey Hawthorne? Are you listening? With their combination of talents, surely more stories and adventures are to follow? Just let me know. I’ll be ready to join in the fun or horror or both.
Cover art is beautiful yet horrific and works within the framework of the story.
Expected publication: March 16th 2016 by Less Than Three Press