Title: The Clockwork Dagger
Author: Beth Cato
Published: September, 2014
Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.
Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.
Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.
Characterization and badassery
Octavia’s got mad healing skills and a big heart. She’s no soppy softy though. She’s got an iron will and stares danger in the face, even though she has no particular means of defense. That makes her badass in her own right. Combat skills are not, by any means, the only way to be strong.
Plot and pacing
The Clockwork Dagger had simplistic plot that read a lot like a whodunit novel. No big twists or surprises, but there was plenty of room for characterization and gradual development.
The pace lagged in the middle before hitting the groove that led to the high point and the resolution. Overall, though, a good pace. Of particular note was the author’s expert job in laying out the worldbuild and story elements without them feeling forced, formulaic, or a burden of info-dump.
Prose and editing
I’m currently reading a different book (trade published by a huge imprint, for the record) that is so full of editing mistakes that I particularly appreciate the solid (not perfect, but that’s okay) editing job in this one.
The prose was nice. Slightly left of just “straightforward” but not all the way over to “floral.” So I’d say pleasant. Enjoyable. It did a good job of reflecting the world and helping my immersion into it.
An excellent job of using small, subtle amusements here and there. I particularly enjoyed that element.
This is like a cozy mystery in a steampunk world, which was fun. The author tells a simple, convincing story. I appreciate that the male lead The Clockwork Dagger is an amputee. We don’t see enough important characters who have disabilities.