Co-reviewing courtesy of Ciska.
Series: The Clockwork Courts #1
Genre: Children’s Clockpunk Fantasy
Size: 198 pages
Availability: Paperback, Ebook
London, 1897: Maia and her brother Tyler find themselves in the midst of a war between the Faerie Courts on Christmas Eve. Accompanied by a talking dog, a clockwork kitchen servant and Fox the stable boy, they embark on a quest to save their lost parents and find the Bluebird. The palace of Night and the Land of the Dead. Skyships. The Goblin Market. A black wolf and the Huntsman who pursues him. A gang of clockwork-enhanced children living in the lost Underground tunnels under the city.
Ravven is an author and artist, originally from the US but now living permanently in the UK. She lives with her husband in a tall, skinny house in a Staffordshire market town, with too many cats and far too many books. They both do a lot of gaming.
The Clockwork Bluebird is inspired by The Children’s Bluebird by Maurice Maeterlinck. Besides this book there are a lot of mythology, fairy tales and other children’s books hidden in this book. How many did you recognize?
Hannah: Only one or two, actually! As well as a bit of mythology and the obvious classic children’s book (The Children’s Bluebird which it was based on). I think I was too swept up in the gorgeous story to pay too close attention, though it was very Alice-in-Wonderland-esque!
Ciska: I am not familar with The Children’s Bluebird so I did not get the hints about that book. I did catch various fairy tales and children’s stories like Puss in Boots and Hansl and Gretl and some Narnia.
Do you feel Ravven made it easy for herself by using various parts of existing stories?
Hannah: No not at all, Ravven has a talent for narrative!
Ciska: It was obvious Ravven made a lot of effort to work these things in the story and some are actually very subtle and hard to recognize. I think she made it more hard on herself using so many well known stories
How did you enjoy the build up and flow of the book?
Ciska: I had parts in the book where I really got lost in the story and it had a great atmosphere but other parts felt forced as in between as if there was not enough time to write the book or it was not allowed to go over a certain number of pages. I feel the book could have been even stronger if it was longer and the short cuts where worked out better.
Hannah: Yeah, it did go a little too fast towards the end, but I felt the length was just right. Perhaps a little balancing between the rushed ending and the rest of the story.. but saying that, it never dragged. So perhaps a little more time for the ending to float down nicely could have been nice. I did like the ending though, did you?
Ciska: It is a real fairy tale ending!
What was your favourite character?
Hannah: I liked Maia. She’s a little firecracker! But I also really liked the automaton and the stable boy. The automaton (Bread) just wanted to protect the children and he was a heroic character. Then the stable boy’s mischievousness and mysterious nature really grabbed me.
Ciska: I prefered the boy actually. He was so serious with everything he was doing. And honestly I loved the cat even though he was not so friendly. It was funny how both cat and dog represented the most obvious characters belonging to both animals. With the dog being loyal and the cat not so much
Without giving too much away, what was your favourite setting?
Ciska: That is a hard question! I loved the castle and the gardens of the good side. But also the castle of the bad guys. I would have loved to know more about the market Maia went with the nanny too.
Hannah: Oooh yes! I adored the market. I feel as though I’ve been there, now. Maybe in future novels though, right? I also really liked the idea behind Big Ben but I won’t say any more on that one.
Ciska: Yes I loved the Big Ben too it should be a book in itself what was going on there.
What makes The Clockwork Bluebird ‘steampunk’?
Ciska: I felt the steampunk influences were subtle. There was the automaton and the transport animals. I am still a bit wary on steampunk, getting used to it and this book was understandable for me without making it to much information.
Hannah: I agree. Ravven utilised ‘clockpunk’ more than direct ‘steampunk’ here. The story was focused on fantasy and fairy tale, but the setting contained automatons and clockwork-powered horses, as well as the fashion, and many other settings which I don’t want to bring up for fear of spoiling it for other readers. And of course, there’s the clockwork bluebird itself. It’s not exactly present in the story as it has gone missing but even so, the story focuses upon this little clockwork bird. It’s a great introduction to steampunk.
So, overall, what did you think of the novel and who would you recommend it to?
Ciska: I guess I would recommend it to people who’d like a light introduction in steampunk, like fairytales and an audience younger than I was. Between 12 and 15. I did enjoy the book a lot though at points it was childish.
Hannah: It’s certainly a nice way to ease into the world of steampunk from a classic children’s fantasy style. As for audience, I’d say it’s suitable for 10+, but I wouldn’t let that dissuade people as it is a gorgeous novel. Give it a try!
Another review of The Clockwork Bluebird can be found on Ink Scratchers.
The Clockwork Courts:
1. The Clockwork Bluebird