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So asks the sickly stranger who staggers into Peg Leg Nel’s birthday party. Before the man dies, he tells Ray and his friends of a Darkness spreading like wildfire across Kansas, turning good people bad and poisoning anyone who tries to escape. It’s clear that though the evil Gog is dead, his devilish machine has survived and is growing stronger.

Now a full-fledged Rambler, Ray leads his friends on a mission into the heart of darkness. Vital to their success is tracking down the legendary Wolf Tree, rumored to be a pathway to the spirit world. Only with one of the tree’s limbs can the Nine Pound Hammer be repaired and the Gog’s terrible machine finally destroyed. The search for the Wolf Tree grows desperate as the Darkness spreads, threatening Ray, his friends, and all of humanity.

The Wolf Tree is the second fantasy adventure book in John Claude Bemis’s series The Clockwork Dark, and adds new layers of myth and magic to Bemis’s original take on American tall tales in The Nine Pound Hammer.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published August 24, 2010

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About the author

John Claude Bemis

11 books48 followers
From the author website;
I’ve always been fascinated by trains. My grandfather hopped trains all over the country in his “hobo days” and filled my head with curious stories of America’s lost past. Those stories, I suppose, were the beginnings of my first novel, The Nine Pound Hammer.

I grew up in rural eastern North Carolina by a swampy creek on the Neuse River. Yes, I’ve been bitten by a water moccasin, but fortunately not by an alligator. When you live in a county with just one stoplight, you learn how to entertain yourself. As a kid, I read a lot, played in tobacco barns, swam in the river when the jellyfish weren’t too thick, and learned violin and guitar.

Eventually playing classical violin in youth orchestras and playing electric guitar in a bunch of terrible rock and punk bands led me to American roots music. I’m partial nowadays to vintage country or blues, Cajun or bluegrass, anything with a fiddle or a musical saw. Some friends and I formed a band Hooverville and put out a pair of CDs of original songs. They’re fun to listen to if you like that kind of music.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, I studied Art History and Elementary Education. I taught elementary school for twelve years, mostly 4th and 5th grades as well as being a Gifted Education resource teacher. I got a chance in the classroom to teach the books I loved so much as a kid and discovered a lot of incredible new children’s literature along the way. But something seemed to be missing from my class’s bookshelf: fantasy based on America’s folklore.

Through old-timey music, I became fascinated with the way America’s myths have been passed down through songs. Drawing on the legend of John Henry’s struggle against the steam drill, I thought about how Southern folklore could be turned into epic fantasy. This passion grew into my first novel, The Nine Pound Hammer, a story set in a mythical 19th-century America full of traveling hoodoo conjurers, cowboys, swamp mermaids, and steamboat pirates. The adventures continue in The Wolf Tree and The White City, the other books in the Clockwork Dark trilogy.

I live the small-town life in Hillsborough, North Carolina with my wife, Amy, and daughter, Rose. We spend a lot of time hiking on the trails around our house, going into town for chocolates and coffees, or encouraging our overweight cat Max to run around some.

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5 stars
80 (32%)
4 stars
100 (40%)
3 stars
51 (20%)
2 stars
9 (3%)
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4 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Fraser Sherman.
Author 10 books29 followers
December 19, 2019
3.5. This starts slow, very leisurely reintroducing the characters from book one, and takes a while to get going. It picks up steam as it goes along, though. Unsurprisingly Gog's Machine from the first book was not destroyed and now it's spreading a darkness out across the west and reaching east. The Ramblers and their friends are all off on quests to fight the Machine, one way or another, but will any of them succeed? Overall, a win.
Profile Image for Adie Muller.
114 reviews1 follower
May 6, 2022
I found this middle book to be boring. There was too much explanation by characters, or convenient realizations that solve problems too easily. The story felt a bit lazy in its overall form, and also Ray was a bit insufferable in his self-centered-ness.

I wasn't really compelled to read this often, but I'm glad I got through it. I'm hoping the third book will be as good as the first book was.
Profile Image for Simon.
1,109 reviews23 followers
November 25, 2019
The adventure continues and we learn about a whole bunch of things that have happened to the characters over the time that has passed since the conclusion of the last book.
Profile Image for Carolina Colleene.
Author 1 book35 followers
February 22, 2019
Language - PG (1 swear, 0 "f"), Sexual Content - G; Violence - PG
A darkness is over taking part of Kansas and there is reason to believe it has something to do with the Gog's machine. Ray and Marisol set out to look into it. Along the way, Marisol starts turning into the Rambler she knew she could be and Ray develops new talents. Meanwhile, Sally sets off on her own to find her father alone and without any knowledge on how to help herself, depending on the lodestone and her father's book. Conker and Jolie are another pair on their own journey. They are determined to fix the Nine Pound Hammer. Three journeys, one ultimate goal: destroy the Gog's machine.
I enjoyed this book almost as much as the first one. With lots of action and different groups of people, it was fun to read how they all eventually intertwined. It also stopped me from putting it down for even a moment. It made me sad to reach the end, and even sadder when I realized I don't have the third one in my possession. When I get it though, I hope it lives up to the expectations raised by the first two.
Reviewed for https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Felicity Terry.
1,128 reviews21 followers
December 22, 2017
So often overshadowed by the first and second, the beginning and end in any trilogy, and yet my favourite of all three books.

The author's world building just got better (and believe me it was pretty exceptional in the first book, J.C. Bemis Proudly Presents The Mystifying Medicine Show), the American 'tall tales combined with other myths and legends (there was definitely some Norse mythology in there unless I'm very much mistaken) had me itching to read up on them and, oh my goodness, those characters. Those introduced in the first book went from strength to strength with some of my favourites playing a much larger part as the story was told not only through the eyes of Ray but also several others (including one who came as quite a surprise) and as for the new ones? Well, lets just say I loved Quorl, his fight to keep his humanity as he travelled in search of the dying Wolf Tree (surely a nod towards Yggdrasil, Tree of Life) compelling in itself.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper
Profile Image for Books Ahoy.
30 reviews9 followers
April 16, 2011
If The Nine Pound Hammer was amazing then The Wolf Tree was extraordinary! This book sucks you in right at the beginning with the talk of "The Darkness". This sequel was in my opinion more suspenseful and kept me surprised the more I read. My favorite part was finding out that....well, I don't want to spoil it for you ;) . There were so many events happening that I couldn't put the book down. Another thing I liked about it is that it's not only told in Ray's point of view this time around. We get to see things from Sally's point of view and her feelings toward everything thats been going on. We also get to see the thoughts and feelings of Jolie, Conker, and other characters in the book. There are a few new characters introduced spicing the book up a bit also. There were some HUGE surprises in this book! Some questions are answered but mostly new questions asked. Overall, this is my favorite book in the series so far but I do have one more to read so we'll see :)
Profile Image for Shanshad Whelan.
649 reviews33 followers
September 18, 2010
Not bad overall. Definitely a 2nd book in a series in that you really need to read the first and the story doesn't have as nice a conclusion as does the original book because there are so many story threads open for the third.

I will say having so many viewpoints in this story made it less strong than the original where Ray was our main focus. Ray doesn't seem to have as much to do in this book by comparison. The knowledge of Ramblers and the existence of legend and magic has become just part of daily life--it's good stuff still, but it obviously can't match the introductions in the first book.

I like the series and will continue reading without qualm. I'm hoping this book will improve with the addition of the the next.
Profile Image for Angie.
2,389 reviews50 followers
July 22, 2012
I liked this one. Not quite to a four but more than "just" a three.

Ray is in the story ... but he is not nearly as central a character. Sally takes on a much larger role, as does Marisol (and her snakes ... which still give me the creeps). Jolie, too. And (without giving too much away) another character we did not expect to see again.

I don't quite "get" the whole machine thing, but I think book three should tie that up. This book was definitely a middle "we're not ready to finish but we want to tell you some more" kind of volume. Things happen to Buck and Si that really don't seem to serve much more of a purpose than to explain why they are not in this book very often. Could be foreshadowing or not.

Still. I'm hooked and we'll finish the series!
Profile Image for Linda.
71 reviews
August 23, 2013
My son and I listen to books on tape all the time. We listened to the 9 pound hammer and enjoyed it very much. Then we started reading this book, the cover said it was for kids 8-12. Not true! 8 year olds should not be reading this book or listening to it. This book has very graphic death scenes and racial slurs. I am not light of heart nor do I believe in censorship. However, I do think perhaps that the publishers or whoever rates these stories should really think about who the audience should be. I work in a library and asked one of the librarians how this system works. She explained it a bit and said that the publishers never seem to get it right and the best thing to do was to come here and read reviews and try to make an informed decision.
Profile Image for Jackie.
304 reviews2 followers
October 9, 2014
In this second volume of “The Clockwork Dark”, many of the characters of the first book travel throughout the country learning new skills and maturing. Their paths finally join at the Wolf Tree for a brief reunion before splitting up again with each group travelling with a specific task to help defeat the growing darkness. The newly rebuilt 9 pound hammer has been stolen and must be recovered. Nel has to be warned that the Gog knows about Shuckstack, the safe haven he founded for the children who had been travelling on an ill intentioned orphan train. And lastly, the search must continue for Ray and Sallie’s father, who may know the way to end the darkness that is trying to take control of the entire country.
406 reviews2 followers
February 16, 2014
The second book of the Clockwork Dark series finds the main characters separated, and new characters joining the fray. The underlying element of ecology or conservationism comes more to the forefront, but not to the detriment of the story. In fact, it becomes a driving force in the story, almost a character. The chemistry between the characters, many of whom have paired up here, grows. Is there even a bit of romance developing? A bit of a love triangle? At any rate, this book maintains the pace of a page-turner established by the first book, and the ending is going to leave the reader itching to get into the final book of the series, The White City.
October 27, 2011
Continuing the story begun in "The Nine Pound Hammer," this book develops the plot nicely and enlarges the characters. I think the author does a good job engaging the interest of the reader in the lives of the various characters. I was sorry the third book in the trilogy wasn't out already so I could see how the story ends. I am anxiously waiting for November when the final story should be available. I think most 10 and up readers would enjoy the series. I loved all the folk legends and superstitious embedded in the novel. It was like a lovely visit to my grandmother's.
Profile Image for Dana.
98 reviews1 follower
November 29, 2010
I was very excited when the second book came out. It is a true second volume that follows the pattern of many trilogies. John lives in my town and I am thrilled that he is doing so well. The book continues to have new twists, new characters, and new threats to our hero Ray. A great read for anyone who loves fantasy, but is just a bit tired of the british wizarding invasion.
Profile Image for Susan Baumgartner.
Author 3 books2 followers
January 7, 2012
Like some other reviewers, I felt the multitude of perspectives used and multitude of hanging threads at the end weakened my connection at bit to this sophomore work. However, it's still a fun tale and holds enough potential for me to look forward to more from this author. Definitely darker with slightly more mature themes.
Profile Image for Sarah Tilatitsky.
335 reviews10 followers
September 21, 2010
This book is a little bit less boring, but it was still fantastic, with twists, turns and surprises at every page. I feel sad that Conker had to stay in the water for nearly a year, but he's allright, and as strong as ever!
May 3, 2011
This is John Claude Bemis's second book in the Clockwork Dark series, which is featured in Spanish Springs Library's Book Buddies for May 2011. Check out our review of Book 1 (The Nine Pound Hammer) for discussion questions. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Amy Wilmoth.
17 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2012
Really like this series. This is the second book in a series of three. Great fantasty story that keeps you wanting to turn the page to find out what happens next. Plus he's another great local author.
Profile Image for Sherrie.
1,513 reviews
November 30, 2012
Well done follow up to The Nine Pound Hammer. I enjoyed this book even more than the first. The Wolf Tree offered up more action and adventure than the first book. There were so many loose ends at the end of this book so I'm excited to see if the machine will be destroyed.
Profile Image for Cecilia Rodriguez.
3,522 reviews40 followers
December 15, 2015
Ray is now a Rambler, and is given his first assignment. Not wanting to be left out, Sally, Ray's younger sister goes in search of their missing father.
In this adventure, Bemis uses symbolism from Norse mythology.
A good, fast-paced action fantasy.
Profile Image for Liza.
21 reviews
March 3, 2011
Left me hanging, can't wait to read the third!
724 reviews2 followers
September 25, 2012
I'm listening to this series. It is wonderful, and sticks in my mind all day long.
Profile Image for Katy.
64 reviews1 follower
September 24, 2013
I read all three over the summer. I find that a lot of sequels fall short but this one held it's own and developed other characters from the first book.
30 reviews
September 18, 2014
I may give this another try since the first one was so engaging. This one just didn't have the same pull and I lost interest. Too many other good books to take time for this one.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews

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