Review: The Clorkwork Sky – Story and Art by Madeleine Rosca

Publisher: Tor
Where did you get the book: Publisher
Release date: Out now

London, 1895: Riots in the streets!

Erasmus Croach’s miraculous factory, Ember, has flooded London with steampowered automatons. The already suffering working class take to the streets to protest the jobs lost to these machines, and to quell the riot, Captain Thorn of Scotland Yard calls in Ember’s latest and greatest creation, the automatic police boy, Sky!

Meanwhile, Sally Peppers, Croach’s headstrong and brilliant niece, dreams of a life beyond manners and marriageability. When she escapes her overbearing governess on a motorized velocipede and joins a no-rules road rally through the slums, Croach sends Sky to bring her back, preferably alive.

Together, the impulsive Sally and the naive Sky crash headlong into a mystery involving rogue automatons prowling the sewers, children disappearing without a trace, and a dark secret so big it could overturn all of London. But the biggest mystery of all is why Sky is the first robot who can dream….

*blurb taken from Goodreads.

I was so excited when Tor sent me The Clorkwork Sky for review. The cover is amazeballs, and the premise sounded exciting. It’s the year 1895 and automatons are taking over the jobs of the working class. The working class are up in revolt, but automatons are still being created by Erasmus Croach, the famous creator of London’s steampowered automatons. A riot occurs when the working class protest the unfairness of the automatons taking their jobs. To disperse the crowd, the police send in their newest police officer, Sky, an automaton, who has the appearance of a boy. During the riot, Captain Thorne of the police becomes aware that the working class children are vanishing, and he’s troubled by this turn of events.

Watching the riot unfold is Sally Pepper, niece of the famous Erasmus Croach. Sally is forever disobeying the orders of her governess. Her parents have sent her to her Uncle’s home because they can’t control her anymore. Instead of being lady-like, Sally is into machines. Soon, Sally starts to buckle under the rules of her Uncle’s house, and escapes with a Velocipede. Sally finds herself in a underground race, and it’s there that she meets Sky who has been ordered by Captain Thorne and Erasmus to find her and bring her back home.

The Clockwork Sky has an amazing premise where it’s obviously hinted at that Croach is using children to build parts of his automatons which is beyond creepy. I loved the beginning where the scenes starts with a boy dreaming, aching for the conductor of the toy train to take him away, but when the dreaming boy reaches his arms outwards, it betrays him as a robot. So whilst this was a great start to the book, I ended up having some issues with the rest of the story.

In Chapter one and two, at times, it was confusing trying to figure out who the narrative speech belonged to as some of the images were very small. Also, there was some repetitive word usage that lost its effectiveness for me. There were some scenes that I didn’t enjoy, and those were Sally’s back-history. It was predictable with the un-loveable parents and unloving family, so she acts out in a rebellious nature. It seemed weak, and I couldn’t engage with Sally’s character. Sky on the other hand I did enjoy, and most of the scenes featuring him were the strongest. There was a vulnerability about him despite the nature of what he is which challenges everything that automatons are. Sky is obviously tied up in the story of the missing children, and the ending of the story leaves that question in glaring lights.

All in all, The Clockwork Sky is likeable read with Sky as the strong protagonist, but the story was a little stilted, over-repetitive and predictable. I give it a C-

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