A Free Dreamer Review: The Empty Hourglass (Deal with a Devil) by Cornelia Grey


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The Empty HourglassThomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.

Review: First of all, while this is part of a series, “The Empty Hourglass” is a stand alone. Every book set in the “Deal with a Devil” universe can be read independently. They only have one minor character in common.

I was really looking forward to this book. I absolutely loved the first short story of this universe, “Devil at the Crossroads”, and “The Circus of the Damned” was pretty good too. And when there was a promise of a freaky, steampunky prosthetic, I was ecstatic. Apparently I have a real thing for that. Anyway, my expectations were very high and unfortunately the book couldn’t quite live up to them.

I liked that Thomas was a bit of an underdog. I would’ve liked to read more about his background, though. It’s not every day you meet somebody who grew up on the streets and then turned into a toy maker of all things in your M/M books. That could have made for a really interesting story, but unfortunately the author didn’t really use that potential.

Jethro is your typical eccentric inventor: Kind of grumpy and a bit of a weird loner, but with a good heart and a tragic past to boot. His characterization was a little shallow, leaving him with little depth and a lot of stereotypes.

One of the reasons why I loved the other two books in this universe is the sex. Cornelia Grey can write incredibly sensual, delightfully different sex scenes. Unfortunately, this time she chose to leave the sex non-explicit, which is a real shame. I usually don’t mind fade-to-black scenes, but I was really looking forward to how and if the author would incorporate the prosthetic. That unfortunately didn’t happen here and I was a little disappointed, to be honest.

I loved that Cornelia Grey actually decided to have a real ghost show up. I’ve never seen a similar take on ghosts and mysticism. That was really well done. But again, a little more detail would have been really nice.

The world building was unfortunately rather lacking. There’s talk about a big war that happened a few years back. Thomas was even recruited as an engineer and the experience seems to have left some deep impressions. There are also a lot of veterans who were injured during said war. However, we never do find out any details about the war. Who fought against whom? And why? For how long? And so on. I really expected more details since it played such an important role in the story.

The ending felt a little forced, as if the author realized she had to write a happy end of some sort and hastily came up with a magical solution for it all.

Overall, this was the weakest book of the series so far. It lacked in details and didn’t even have any of Grey’s usually sizzling hot sex scenes. It seems like the series gets weaker with every new book the author writes. A shame, because “Devil at the Crossroads” was simply amazing. But now I finally want a book solely about Farfarello, the devil everybody’s making deals with.

Cover: I don’t particularly like the cover by Jay Asher. It doesn’t really fit with the other two books, which have absolutely gorgeous covers. There’s just too much brown for my liking and the picture looks kind of blurry.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon  other links to  come

Book details:

ebook, 264 pages
Expected publication: April 9th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleThe Empty Hourglass
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDeal with a Devil

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