Cutter - Book Reviews

***** - Excellent
**** - Good
*** - Okay
** - Bad
* - Terrible
+ - Half-star

Clockwork Kingdom
(The Clockwork Fairy trilogy, Book 1)
Leah R. Cutter
CreateSpace
Fiction, YA Fantasy
****

DESCRIPTION: Twins Nora and Dale were too old to believe in fairies. With a domineering father and a sickly mother, who risked her life and health the day she grabbed the kids and fled to the Oregon coast, their lives are anything but a fairy tale. Then Dale found his way to a dilapidated house full of strange and marvelous clockwork devices. Despite Nora's warnings, he took one home, his mechanic's mind unable to resist the challenge of deciphering its purpose. Little do either of them suspect that the device was created by fairies - and the cruel Queen Adele has been searching for a human with Tinker abilities to finish the last, greatest machine of her late husband, a machine that will destroy humanity's hold on the world and allow her people to rise up again. If Nora can't stop her own family from disintegrating before her eyes, what chance does she have of saving her twin brother from the clutches of the fairy queen? (Also titled Clockwork Fairy Kingdom.)

REVIEW: At first glance, this looked like half a hundred other young adult fantasies on the market: twins from a broken home, a remote setting, a hidden fairy kingdom, and so forth. However, this proves to be anything but another Fluffy Bunny book. The stakes aren't just bruised elbows and hurt feelings: they are literally life and death. Queen Adele comes from the warrior class of fairies - explaining some of her ruthlessness, not to mention her struggles to hold onto her crown now that her royal-born husband is dead - but even the royals would happily kill a human child if it suited their ambitions. The mysterious dwarf Kostya only helps so long as it hurts the fairies: he, too, would be perfectly willing to slit the twins' throats if it thwarted Adele. Then there's the all-too-human threat of the children's father, a control-freak twisted by a terrible childhood, bound and determined to rescue his son from his "weak" wife and other corrupting influences that are destroying his family and the country. Even the twins find their bonds tested to the utmost, conflicting personalities pushed to the breaking point by the many threats around them. The story reads quickly, with blessedly few instances of characters behaving stupidly just to further the plot; they all must learn fast, if sometimes the hard way, and figure out how to solve their own problems. The ending wraps up many of the story threads, while leaving enough open for possible sequels... though the Epilogue hints that such sequels might be very grim, indeed. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. I might have to track down more of Cutter's books, time and budget willing.

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Arcana Universalis (Chris J. Randolph, Fiction - A starfaring, magic-based empire stands on the brink of catastrophic collapse)
The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - In a world where gifted Rithmatists infuse chalk lines with power, an ungifted academy boy is drawn into danger when students begin vanishing)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
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The Rhyme of the Willow series (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan, YA Fiction - Two kids find themselves in a dark world of plants gone wild)
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The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - A boy finds magical cupboard doorways into other worlds)

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