Angie's Reviews > Clockwork Heart

Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti
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Apr 02, 08

really liked it
bookshelves: belovedbookshelf, steampunk
Read in April, 2008

This debut novel by Dru Pagliassotti is being billed as a steampunk romance/urban fantasy. And it is all of these. But it transcends each of them as well, making it IMO an incredibly enjoyable cross-genre read. I'm sitting here trying to think of someone I wouldn't recommend this book to and I'm coming up blank.

Taya is an icarus--a member of the messenger class. Every day she straps on a pair of metal wings and soars across the city of Ondinium delivering messages. Life in Ondinium is extremely stratified. As an incarus, Taya is considered outside caste and is therefore able to move freely between the uber-powerful upper crust and the lower level plebeians. Social rank is marked by a subtle facial tattoo. And the "exalteds" (the highest of the high) only go out in public masked and heavily robed, to preserve their grace and purity.

Then one day Taya inadvertently rescues an exalted and her son. This seemingly minor event thrusts her into the realm of the exalteds and into the lives of two brothers--Alister and Cristof Forlore. Alister is the dashing younger brother, a gifted programmer, a rising star on the political scene, and an incorrigible lover of women. Cristof is the caustic older brother who has chosen to live outside his caste, maskless, working as a clockwright among the working class of Ondinium. As a rebel group known only as the Torn Cards terrorizes the city with a series of bombings, Taya is swept up in a murder mystery and must quickly learn how to navigate the deep waters between exalted and plebeian, charm and ruthlessness, and Alister and Cristof Forlore.

Clockwork Heart delighted me. I went into it complacently, wanting to love some characters and hate others unreservedly, but Ms. Pagliassottii's multi-faceted characterization made that impossible. I was forced to sit up and care about all of them, to see their flaws and their virtues, to really understand them and how they were themselves but also the product of the unique world they lived in, the society they were born into. A world built on the carefully delineated contrast between humanity and technology, privilege and humility. A truly engrossing read.
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