Book Review: A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz
Series: The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #2
By: Liesel Schwarz
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult / Adult
Genre Type: Steampunk, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: August 13th 2013
Pages: 304 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
FOR BETTER OR CURSE. That might as well have been the wedding vow of Elle Chance and her new husband, the ex-Warlock Hugh Marsh in the second book of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into storytelling magic.
As Elle devotes herself to her duties as the Oracle—who alone has the power to keep the dark designs of Shadow at bay—Marsh finds himself missing the excitement of his former life as a Warlock. So when Commissioner Willoughby of the London Metropolitan police seeks his help in solving a magical mystery, Marsh is only too happy to oblige. But in doing so, Marsh loses his heart . . . literally.
In place of the flesh-and-blood organ is a clockwork device—a device that makes Marsh a kind of zombie. Nor is he the only one. A plague of clockwork zombies is afflicting London, sowing panic and whispers of revolution. Now Elle must join forces with her husband’s old friend, the Nightwalker Loisa Beladodia, to track down Marsh’s heart and restore it to his chest before time runs out.
SUMMARY: This is the second book in the Chronicles of Light and Shadow series by Liesel Schwarz, and it picks up shortly after A Conspiracy of Alchemists ends. This time around the story takes place mostly in London, and Elle and Marsh are now married. Both are having trouble adjusting to their new roles as a married couple and their involvement in the Shadow Realm. Marsh worries about the dangers that surrounds Elle as The Oracle, and misses his powers as an Warlock. Elle wants only to fly and keep her independence, without the ties of being the Oracle nor the restrictions she faces in the traditional role as Marsh's wife. After an argument with Elle, resulting in her taking a charter to Singapore, Marsh decides to accept an invitation from Commissioner Willoughby of the London police asking his help solving case. A mystery that involves magic and the Shadow Realm. When Elle returns from her flight she finds Marsh missing. Now she will need to learn to use her powers as The Oracle to enter the Shadow Realm to find him. What she finds is a devious plan involving Clockwork Hearts, Zombies, and La Dame Blanche who has literally stolen Marshes heart. Now Elle must race against time to save Marsh before it's too late!
SETTING: There is definitely a darker and more Paranormal tone to A CLOCKWORK HEART. You can feel that there is much more at stake in this story and the tension is higher. I really turned the pages on this one-dying to know what happened to Marsh and could Elle save him in time. The overall tone is still a Steampunk, and just as fun and entertaining as it's predecessor, but now there is a darker aspect to it. Liesel Schwarz has included some fantastic new "Mythic Characters" to the story as well as more time spent in the paranormal world of the Shadow Realm. One of my favorite scenes involves Elle entering the dreamy land of the Shadow Realm, and meeting a intriguing character named "Jack" and it involves some fabulously creative magic and the use of Marsh and Elle's wedding bands. The symbolism of the wedding bands was brilliant!
CHARACTERS: ELLE is just as fun and passionate and as before, but really learns a lot about herself in this story. She learns about balancing her new newly married life and being The Oracle with her love of flying and independence. Elle truly starts to become a heroine in this story, one who learns about love and sacrifice, all the while fighting Zombies, mad scientist, and a woman who wants to keep Marsh for herself.
HUGH MARSH is just as dashing and charismatic as before, and desperately wants to enjoy his new life with his wife, but misses being a Warlock. Unfortunately Marsh is missing in action during a large part of the story due to being kidnapped. There is some near heartbreaking moments involving Marsh's kidnapping and Elle, and it nearly broke my heart as this couple suffers. But I know (HOPE) in book three, THE SKY PIRATES, that the author will (PLEASE) give Elle and Marsh the "Happily Ever After" they deserve!
THE BARONESS LOISA BELODODIA, who is a Nightwalker and niece to the famous Vlad, returns and plays a larger role in this story as she helps Elle to solve the mystery behind Marsh's kidnapping and the Tickers. Loisa's character is enchanting and deadly at the same time, and I adore her character as much as Elle's.
ADELE the Absinthe drinking fairy is just as mischievous as before, and continues to add additional insight into the story with her alternating point of view placed sporadically throughout the story.
NEW CHARACTERS: CLOTHILDE or La Dame Blanche (a lady in white) is a marvelous villain in the story. Full of dark and supernatural powers, this is one villain you'll love to hate. She has terrible plans involving Zombies and Clockwork Hearts.
OLD JACK is an intriguing character Elle meets in the enchanted forest of the Shadow Realm, and I hope to see more of him in SKY PIRATES.
RICHARD "DUCKY" RICHARDSON is an old friend from flight school and was the brother Elle never had. His loveable and comedic behavior helped lighten the story when needed, and also helped join in on the fight against the Clockwork Zombies.
CAPTAIN LOGAN DASHWOOD the owner who lost the Iron Phoenix in a game of cards with Elle. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping to see more of him in the next book THE SKY PIRATES.
SWOON LEVEL: Crush
THE ROMANCE: There isn't much room for romance in this story, instead the story focuses on Elle learning to use her powers as The Oracle and saving Marsh. Although most of the romance is missing due to Marsh being kidnapped, Elle did learn a lesson about her marriage to Marsh that is really important to their future.
Marsh turned and smile at her. "So, could I perhaps persuade you to forgo your tea and join me in a drink?" he said.
Elle gave him her most alluring smile. "You might. And if you'll bring mine to me upstairs in a little while, who knows? I might even invite you to join me."
Marsh gave her a wicked grin. "Invitation accepted, but don't blame me if Mrs. Hinges is annoyed because we're late for dinner."
WHAT I LIKED: The additional Paranormal elements and darker tone of the story. I especially enjoyed Elle's dreamlike visits into the Shadow Realm, and the fabulously evil villainess La Dame Blanche.
WHAT I MISSED: Although I enjoyed Elle as the main focus of this story and her learning to use her Oracle abilities, but I MISSED MARSH!
THE ENDING: Be prepared for action, tension, and possible heartbreak, as the last third of the book ratchets up the tension, and suspense will be high!
THE RATING: 4.5 Stars. I really liked it!
RECOMMENDATION: Steampunk and Paranormal lovers.
PLEASE NOTE: An ARC was provided by NetGalley/Publisher in exchange for my review. Thank you Random House/Del Rey for the review opportunity.