Review – Clockwork Magpies

Time for a book recommendation. Let me tell you about Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall.

Clockwork Magpies – Official Summary

By day, Ida is a quiet, standoffish maid in the employ of spoiled Lucinda Belmonte. By night, she is the infamous sneak thief known as the Rat Prince, terrorising the wealthy inhabitants of Loxport; especially Lucinda’s lecherous suitor, Lord Devon Casterbury.

Soon the boundaries between her dual lives begin to blur, as her mask begins to drop around a delightful waitress and a charming jeweller who both insist on befriending Ida. All the while she is thrust into a conflict surrounding new and dangerous materials that could upend the order of the city, land her behind bars or worse: in Lord Casterbury’s employ.

A thrilling romp through the Steampunk city of Loxport, Clockwork Magpies is a story of found family, crimes plotted over tea and scones, and the sinister power of glowing gemstones.

Clockwork Magpies – My Summary

A solid steampunk adventure which uses well-defined characters and efficient, unfussy language to tell a simple, engaging story (which, as you know, is totally my jam).

The Pros

Clockwork Magpies has a lot going for it. I enjoyed the well-defined cast of characters, and the northern setting, and I liked the many steampunk elements, which all served to augment the story rather than overpower it. Too many steampunk novels concentrate on the technology to the detriment of everything else.

Emma knows how to tell a story without getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. Not for her big long lists of what people are wearing or how their mechanical inventions work. I like that. She tells the story that needs to be told, and if something needs explaining she finds a way to slip it in there without you noticing, making for a very natural yet informative writing style.

I enjoyed the interplay between the characters, especially between Ida, Edith, and Clem. There is real friendship there, and it is well handled. Yes Clem’s “showmanship” can be a little grating sometimes (a personal gripe on my part) but you still want him to succeed. And I really hope Edith’s love life works out for the better, for all our sakes.

Clockwork Magpies is both well written and thoroughly enjoyable, an excellent debut novel from someone who I think gets what steampunk is all about. Emma has given the city of Loxport and the lives of its residents real depth and definition, with the promise of many more tales to come, and I for one look forward to reading them all.

The Cons

Not many. There was a wee lag in the middle for me, when the story concentrated more on developing character motivations than advancing the plot, but even that was good if you’re into that kind of thing. My lack of enthusiasm is probably down to trying to read it whilst doing a bunch of night shifts, which is never fun. And there were a number of formatting errors throughout the copy I had, which is a little off putting, but since this was an early print that I won through a Twitter competition, and I know from communicating with the publisher that some of these have been fixed already, I won’t hold that against them.

So Should I read It?

In a word, yes. Emma writes the same way I do, fast efficient, with no messing about, so if you’ve tried Dexter & Sinister and you liked what you saw then you’re going to like Clockwork Magpies too.

You can follow Emma on both Twitter and Instagram.

2 thoughts on “Review – Clockwork Magpies

  1. Pingback: Asking Authors Awkward Question, with Emma Whitehall – Keith W. Dickinson

  2. Pingback: What Is Steampunk? – Keith W. Dickinson

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