Seventeen-year-old Danny Hart is a recently graduated clock mechanic in an alternate England where every town’s local clock tower controls the fabric of time. Mechanics like Danny are in a valued and controversial profession maintaining the clocks, because in the world of Timekeeper, time is a near sentient being. It is embodied in Danny’s culture as mythology—gods Chronos and Aetas—when clock spirits reveal themselves in human form.
Danny is dealing with recent trauma, an explosion at a clock tower on one of his first assignments, and the imprisonment of his father—a senior clock mechanic—in the town of Maldon where time has stopped. Sabotage is suspected as more goes wrong with clocks in London and its surrounding towns. When Enfield’s clock experiences repeated injury—a missing numeral, a crack to the clock face—Danny is sent to make repairs and meets Colton, the beautiful clock spirit of the Enfield tower. His relationship with Colton provides Danny insight on the dangers and rewards of romantic attachment between humans and clocks spirits. His interactions with the Lead Mechanic, his mentor Matthias, and his peers, also bring Danny closer to understanding what went wrong in Maldon.
This is an enjoyable read featuring a well-constructed world and characters with meaningful relationships and conflicts. As with any fantasy novel, disbelief must be suspended, and in Timekeeper a weird typography is accepted as a reflection of warping and other time disruptions. With the inclusion of steam-powered autos and women in the professional workforce, I did not realize until reading the author’s note that the setting is an alternate Victorian England. This matters little because it has an absorbing story, contains some quite beautiful prose, and seems to carry a deeper message about love and its consequences.