ARC/Book Review: Timekeeper – Tara Sim


Title: Timekeeper (2016)
Author: Tara Sim
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 368 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.


Steampunk isn’t a popular subgenre within YA fiction, so imagine my excitement when I discovered Timekeeper. A Victorian world controlled by clocks, where the protagonist is a mechanic who falls in love with a clock spirit! It sounds like my kind of thing, so I jumped at the chance to read it with The Fanboy Book Club .

Timekeeper is the story of Daniel Hart, a young mechanic assigned to fix the clock tower in a small town called Enfield. Apart from dealing with the challenges of being one of the youngest mechanics ever, Danny also has to struggle with his fear of clocks, his mother’s emotional detachment and blame, and the loss of his father, who is stuck in a town where time has Stopped.

Men and women aged, trees grew, plants withered. Time moved all things. Killed all things.

The world-building in Timekeeper is unlike anything I’ve seen before in YA fiction. Every town has its own clock tower that controls the time in that town — if something is wrong with the clock, the time goes wonky: it repeats itself, it stops and starts, it skips, it makes the day go by slower or faster than usual. It’s quite imaginative and unique, and while Sim did take some liberty with the historical timeline, she explained herself in the author’s note at the end. You can rest assured that everything important is considered and that she did her research.

The plot took a while for me to get into — while the book was an easy read, I wasn’t actively compelled to continue reading until maybe about the 30% mark. Once it found its footing, though, it became more engaging. There are small snippets on the world’s mythology story at the end of some chapters, and I’m gonna be honest: I skipped these parts because I just wasn’t really interested.

Characterisation was where the book failed for me, unfortunately, because most of them felt quite one-dimensional to me. I found Danny adorable, but a bit reckless and immature at times — so realistic for a teenage boy, but ultimately not interesting to me. The clock spirit was also charming, but not particularly unique in terms of personality. The rest of the cast seemed to exist for this story only, and frankly some became interchangeable as the story goes on.

“Wouldn’t you do anything for the one you love?”

“Yes, I would. And so I am.”

Sim’s writing was good and flowed well, though for some reason made Timekeeper feel more Middle Grade than YA to me. There were some interesting stylistic choices she made that popped up nearing the end of the story, which I quite enjoyed because it was unexpected. Overall quite a good book, especially if you want to read some kick-ass steampunk world-building. 🙂

* I received an ARC of TIMEKEEPER from The Fanboy Book Club in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book.

Timekeeper Blog Tour

NOVEMBER 6The Ultimate Fangirl
NOVEMBER 8The Litaku
NOVEMBER 9: Books and Prejudice
NOVEMBER 10The Writing Hufflepuff & Read by Nicka
NOVEMBER 12Addlepates and Book Nerds
NOVEMBER 13: Dip into Books
NOVEMBER 14Blame It on the Books
NOVEMBER 15: The Bibliophile Confessions
NOVEMBER 16She Latitude
NOVEMBER 17: Reads and Thoughts
NOVEMBER 18: The Ultimate Fangirl

Interested in purchasing Timekeeper? 💛

Sky Pony Press | Book Depository | Amazon

Want to win a finished copy of TimekeeperEnter the giveaway (US and Canada only)!

30 thoughts on “ARC/Book Review: Timekeeper – Tara Sim

  1. Great review for this book Reg, I’m glad you enjoyed it despite some of the issues you had with the slow beginning and the characterization.
    You don’t see many Steampunk books in YA fiction, compared to a lot of other genres out there there are hardly any, but it’s something I’m always interested in reading so I feel I need to find more I could potentially enjoy. I loved the world-building as well, and the idea that time was controlled through the clocks rather than it being something beyond control. I didn’t notice any historical inaccuracies, is it bad considering I live in England, but at least everything really important was include! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I LOVE the whole clock tower thing – that was super, super cool; I wish I had thought of that. 😛

      I’m very bad with noticing historical inaccuracies myself. I mean, just because the book is different doesn’t mean it’s “inaccurate” – perhaps the author just tweaks that part of history to suit their purpose, and I don’t see that as such a bad thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know about this genre until recently. Glad to see that you liked the book despite some of the issues that came up especially with the characters. Great review!


  3. Oh I love the concept of this book! I don’t read a lot of Steampunk, maybe because it’s not such a popular genre and I didn’t take the time to find out new books in that genre, there are SO many already to read in popular genres haha, I’m a bit overwhelmed. But I really love the idea behind this story. too bad the characters failed you a little bit. I think I’ll keep that one on the corner of my mind 🙂 Great review!


  4. Reg! Thank you so much for participating in the blog tour. ❤ It really means a lot to me, and your review is just fantastic. I enjoyed Timekeeper very much as well. And you may be right on the thought about the mythology. Maybe it comes down to preference because I really liked it haha. *hugs* Thanks again!


  5. I’ve not read a lot of Steampunk, if any. I’m still not sure if The Infernal Devices is considered as such or not haha. I’ve been looking to try to read more though and this one is one I’m really interested in. It’s good to hear that the world building was great and I love the whole time concept. Hopefully I’m able to get around to reading it myself soon. Great review, Reg! 😊


  6. Wonderful review! The majority of reviews I’ve read for this one had similar feelings; they loved the word the author created but the characters came up flat. I’ve only read one steampunk novel, but it didn’t live up to my expectations either… I would love any recvomendations if you know of any.

    ” I found Danny adorable, but a bit reckless and immature at times — so realistic for a teenage boy…”

    Haha 😂


    • Thank you, Amanda! What was that steampunk novel that disappointed you? The only other thing I can really remember reading is Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, which was enjoyable but not mind-blowing.

      And I couldn’t help myself with Danny – you gotta admit that YA characters don’t always act their age (although what that means is debatable), but Danny really reminds me of the boy teenagers in my life. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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