Timekeeper by Tara Sim was probably my most anticipated 2016 debut. From the second I heard about this book, I knew I couldn’t wait to have it, to read it, to hold it in my hands. Thanks to getting an ARC, I got to do the reading part of it a while ago (and then I didn’t around to reviewing it, oops), but I haven’t yet gotten to hold it in my hands, so there is quite a large dose of anticipation still going!
But then again, my excitement over Timekeeper isn’t going to die down anytime soon. Timekeeper takes place in an alternate Victorian England where time is controlled by clock towers. If something happens to a clock tower, time is likely to slow or skip or, worst case scenario, Stop. The Clock Mechanics are the ones who keep all the clocks running smoothly. Danny is one such mechanic, recovering from a recent accident and still trying to cope with the knowledge that his father may be permanently trapped in a Stopped town. On his first assignment, back on the job, Danny meets a young man he thinks to be his assistant. But the truth is more complicated than that and soon Danny realises that the boy is in fact one of the mythical Clock Spirits that only exist in stories and whispers amongst the mechanics. But despite the rules that say he shouldn’t, Danny and Colton can’t stop the inevitable pull towards one another, as they must somehow unravel the mystery of the accidents that keep damaging clock towers all over the country.
So yes, we have a reimagined Victorian England with time as a tangible magical energy and an m/m romance! There really wasn’t much else this book could have done to grab my attention. But then I read it, and it was a thousand times better and more magical than I could ever have hoped it would be.
Sim’s writing is simply beautiful and weaves into an effortless tale where old stories and myths mix with the present to deliver a captivating tale. Her world is rich and alive, populated by diverse characters that are ready to jump off the page at any time. The relationships crafted in between the characters would make you think Sim has been at this writing gig for a hell of a lot longer than she has, given this is her debut.
Danny’s relationship with his mother is difficult and yet still filled with the love of a family that once was entirely functional until tragedy tore it apart. There is something very powerful about the way the relationship is shown, a not-so-quiet reminder that parents are not perfect, that they are just people. But this does not excuse their failings when it forces the children to take the adult role, and Danny understands that this is exactly the situation his mother has pushed him in. And of course, Danny is angry at her although he doesn’t know how to voice it. Top that with the guilt he feels regarding his father, and Danny’s home life is far from ideal. Still Danny shows a lot of strength, and resourcefulness throughout the book, demonstrating that nothing is ever truly hopeless. His friends, and his rivals, are all vibrantly written characters who move through Sim’s world with purpose, and the main cast was so easy to get attached to that I already can’t wait for the second book in this series.
Timekeeper also means so much to me because Danny is gay, openly so. But this isn’t a story about him being gay, or him coming out. That Danny is a gay is a fact, just as it is a fact that he has brown hair. Danny has the same adventure that so many straight characters have had before him, his sexuality relevant only in his choice of love interest. There is such power to seeing myself represented in a book that it still takes my breath away when it happens. And in those quiet moments when Danny looked at Colton, I found my breath stolen. Sim painted their romance in soft, gentle touches that warmed the heart, that remind us of the importance of acceptance and understanding, of allowing the other to just be who they are. I fell in love with them as a couple early on in the book and I have missed them since I turned the last page of the book.
I could probably waffle about this book for ours, tell you how amazing Daphne and Brandon are, how much I want to visit the world Sim has created, but the truth is that to understand how amazing this book is, you need to go read it.
Like right now. Why are you still reading this?
Joking aside, Timekeeper has been one of my favourite books of 2016 (and gods know I have read many an excellent book this year) and it will forever hold a very special place in my heart. What feels like years (but was probably months) ago, when I first found out about this book and that it had an m/m romance in it, I gushed wildly to Sim through Tumblr (I am still a little embarrassed about that), but the truth is her book delivered more than what I hoped, than what I could have wanted.
It was a magical tale about love, about acceptance, about finding the strength in ourselves to do what we know is right even when the rest of the world disagrees. It was a book that I couldn’t put down, that made me laugh, worry, and marvel all at once. And I mean it this time, you all really should go pick up a copy from somewhere!