Chainbreaker, by Tara Sim, for Timeslip Tuesday

Chainbreaker, by Tara Sim (Sky Pony Press, Jan. 2 2018), is the sequel to 2016's Timekeeper (my review), which was also a Timeslip Tuesday book.  These aren't time-slip stories of a traditional sort, with people slipping between different times, but instead are set in a Victorian world where time itself can literally slip out of whack, causing repercussions ranging from the trivial to the profound for the people in the vicinity.  To keep time under control, clock towers were built, each with a resident clock spirit, which are maintained by skilled workers.  17 year old Danny is one such mechanic, and in the first book he fell in love with the spirit of the clock he was maintaining, a boy named Colton (very forbidden both for the same sex part and the spirit/human part).  He also helped solve a crime against the smooth running of time,  surviving exploding clockwork in the process.

Because of his experience with clocks going wrong, Danny is sent to India when clock towers there start being attacked and destroyed.  With him goes a former rival from his days an apprentice, Daphne.  Both are perturbed by the mystery of what's happening to the clock towers in India (where Victoria is about to be proclaimed Empress);  Danny's perturbed to be leaving Colton, and Daphne's perturbed about going to her father's country; he was half Indian, half English.  Their level of mutual perturbation is naturally deepened when their airship is attacked en route, and nothing that happens in India ends up calming them one little bit.

There are plots, both related to the clock towers and their control of time, and related to growing rebellion against the English.  There are romantic involvements and transgressions against the norms of British society during the Raj.  There's the arrival in India of Colton, totally at sea away from his clock tower (which has itself been attacked), desperately looking for Danny.  There are several more attacks and kidnappings, along with spying steampunk spiders.  And all of this has a busy, vivid portrayal of India at a tumultuous time in its history for a backdrop.  But memorable though these things are, what's most memorable of all is the backstory of how the clock towers came to be in the first place.  Part of the book is from Colton's point of view, and he has begun to dream about his past...and what happened is horrifying and sad, and arguably a parallel metaphor to the British Raj....

So there's more action and more steampunk in this second book than there was in the first, so if that was something you found wanting in the first book, you'll enjoy this one more!  I did not find it wanting in the first book, which I enjoyed very much indeed, but I enjoyed this one too because though more Happens, the characters are still the central driving force of the story.  Also Chainbreaker is historical fiction (though of course with a fantastical overlay), and I like historical fiction (though I don't know enough about this particular part of history to be a critical reader of it).

As the number of pages left to turn decreased, I wondered how on earth Tara Sim would manage to get everything wrapped up.....and lo.  She doesn't.  It's a killer of a cliff hanger.  If you wait to read this one till the third book is published, you'll definitely want to keep on going, but it's also fun in a tense, strained way to not yet know, and have the pleasure of resolution to look forward to!  As well as having the expected concern for the characters, who I have come to care about; here's what I am now especially curious about--having seen clock towers in the UK and in India, I want to know what is time up to in the rest of the world.

I also of course want Danny and Colton to get a happily ever after.  They are both so sweet!

This is an own voices story, Tara Sims is both biracial (her mother's family is from India) and bisexual (here's an interview with her at Reading (As)(I)an  (Am)Erica  for more on the writing of Chainbreaker).

Short answer:  These book are really good reading!

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher


  1. I've been so excited for this book - my copy is in the mail! Glad to hear you enjoyed it!


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