In today’s blog post I’m sharing my thoughts on a book recently published by Northodox Press. They recently advertised advanced reader copies available for reviewers and the cover caught my eye immediately! From there I went to look up the book and it sounded absolutely fantastic. Northodox Press were brilliant in providing a copy to me at my request and I am grateful to be able to share my honest review based on that today.
Clockwork Magpies – Emma Whitehall
By day, Ida is a quiet, standoffish maid in the employ of spoiled Lucinda Belmote. By night, she is the infamous sneak thief known as the Rat Prince, terrorising the wealthy inhabitants of Loxport; especially Lucinda’s lecherous suitor, Lord Devon Casterbury.
Soon the boundaries between her dual lives begin to blur, as her mask begins to drop around a delightful waitress and a charming jeweller who both insist on befriending Ida. All the while she is thrust into a conflict surrounding new and dangerous materials that could upend the order of the city, land her behind bars or worse: in Lord Casterbury’s employ.
A thrilling romp through the Steampunk city of Loxport, Clockwork Magpies is a story of found family, crimes plotted over tea and scones, and the sinister power of glowing gemstones.
Clockwork Magpies is a great palate-cleanser read. It’s just over a few hundred pages, so easily long enough to invest into the characters and the storyline. But at the same time, it’s not a huge commitment. And certainly for an avid reader like me, it doesn’t take very long to read at all! I read this within a few days… and the fact that I enjoyed it so much made this even easier to do!
I don’t often read steampunk themed novels, however if done right they blend well into the fantasy genre. Clockwork Magpies does this seamlessly! Industrial Revolution-esque technological advancement is the vibe in Loxport, and coupled with that is an antiquated social class and society that illustrates that there are leagues to go compare to our modern society.
Ida is a maid for a widower of the elite and considered more fortunate than most for that position of servitude. Her background is one much more humble, but her mother’s ambitions and nefarious skills has kept them all alive. These skills have been passed on and perfected by Ida, who is known more infamously for her thievery in the guise of The Rat Prince. She is well placed to choose her next victim, being connected to the upper circle. She has always taken care to keep these two personas separate, but events in the book watch them collide in spectacular fashion.
I enjoyed Ida’s personal character development arc for a number of reasons. At the beginning of the book, she is a focused young lady whose only real drive is to provide for her family still living in relative poverty. She does this out of a serious sense of duty and because it’s the only link she has left to her mother, the woman she loved and revered. But they are toxic to her. They only use her for financial aid and berate the way in which she provides for them.
Over the course of the narrative she becomes less dependent on them and teaches us readers a powerful lesson – that we can still do the right thing by such people, but in a way that removes the suffering from the toxic relationship. I feel like this is something people even today struggle with. It’s nice to have that represented in a book and allows the opportunity to raise awareness of these types of struggles.
Ida’s focus means she does not permit herself friends. They are only connections that could unveil her secret identity. But, somehow Clem and Edith wheedle the way past her defences with steely determination. They teach her that friendship can offer some powerful allies and support when it’s needed the most.
Identity is a common theme throughout the book, and there are a couple of stand-out quotes I’d like to highlight. I personally really liked them and it’s advice that more people should take: –
“Seriously though, don’t let other people tell you who you are. Or what you are and are not good enough for.”
“My point is, we make ourselves into the people we want to be. Hang the rest, leave it all behind.“
The ending implies that there could be a sequel, and hand-on-heart I sincerely hope so! I feel like Clockwork Magpies lays the foundation for what could be a fantastic series! There is a lot of scope for this series to be taken further; I would love to see more of the dynamic between Ida, Clem and Edith.