by Liesel Schwarz
Series: Chronicles of Light and Shadow #2
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
FOR BETTER OR CURSE. That might as well have been the wedding vow of Elle Chance and her new husband, the ex-Warlock Hugh Marsh in the second book of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into storytelling magic.As Elle devotes herself to her duties as the Oracle—who alone has the power to keep the dark designs of Shadow at bay—Marsh finds himself missing the excitement of his former life as a Warlock. So when Commissioner Willoughby of the London Metropolitan police seeks his help in solving a magical mystery, Marsh is only too happy to oblige. But in doing so, Marsh loses his heart . . . literally. In place of the flesh-and-blood organ is a clockwork device—a device that makes Marsh a kind of zombie. Nor is he the only one. A plague of clockwork zombies is afflicting London, sowing panic and whispers of revolution. Now Elle must join forces with her husband’s old friend, the Nightwalker Loisa Beladodia, to track down Marsh’s heart and restore it to his chest before time runs out.
In February I read and enjoyed A Conspiracy of Alchemists the first book in the Chronicles of Light by and Shadow by Liesel Schwarz. So, when an ARC became available for Clockwork Heart, book two I immediately dove in. Schwarz took this tale to a darker level, with multiple POVs and left me writhing on the floor. Three-word review: action-packed, dark and disappointing.
The tale picks up shortly after A Conspiracy of Alchemists ends. Elle and Hugh are now married, and they are adjusting to life together. Elle is passionate about her flying company and Hugh is concerned about the dangers his wife faces especially since she is the Oracle. Hugh misses his duties as a Warlock and accepts a job from Commissioner Willoughby regarding missing members of the ton. After an argument, Elle takes off on a commissioned flight, but quickly realizes she needs to make things right with Hugh and turns around. When she returns, she finds him missing and the tale that unfolds is froth with danger, and heartbreak as it had me racing to reach the conclusion.
Elle is coming into her abilities as an Oracle and first I was excited by how she was learning and accepting her role but all of that changed. She banishes the prior Oracles from her head, and even when she receives a warning to let them back in she doesn’t listen. This frustrated me and made me angry because I cannot help but wonder if some of the horrific things that occur within these pages could have been avoided. She makes decisions that put her danger, and can be so opinionated it clouds her judgment. Hugh promised Elle she could still be herself, but his attitude and actions showed otherwise. It’s apparent they love each other but I wish they communicated better. Their whole dynamic and the reasons I adored them as a couple suffers and it bothers me that the tale moved in this direction. Elle calls in her friend, nightwalker, Loisa Beladodia and others come to her aid. The villain the Lady in White and the clockmaker were dark and fascinating, besides being driven by a power we really don’t learn much about them. The absinthe fairy was present and we meet a man in the shadows whose identity had me curious.
The overall tone of a Clockwork Heart is much darker than its predecessor. This felt raw and unfinished to me. There are multiple perspectives, and the details and characters were lacking in development, leaving me disappointed. There are threads that seemed senseless and others that I wanted more details on. The diabolical plan was fascinating, and Schwarz set the stage nicely but the climactic scenes felt rushed and at times awkward. What she did to the main characters left me writhing on the floor. I just about cried as she tapped into my emotions and need for an HEA. The tale ended in despair with a glimmer of hope and despite all of the issues with it, I fully intend to read the next book. I am hoping we see a book with the same caliber of detail we saw in A Conspiracy of Alchemists.
While I was disappointed with parts of Clockwork Heart I did find it engaging and I will continue with the tale. If dismal endings and unanswered questions make you anxious, you may want to read this closer to the release of Sky Pirates due out in June of 2014.
It’s always so frustrating when the second book doesn’t live up to the promise of the first. . . or when, as you say this one does, the book goes in a darker direction than you expected. I hope the next one lives up to your expectations.
It was upsetting, some threads made no sense, and I usually love dark but this took it to a whole new level. Thanks Lark 🙂
Aww…that’s too bad! I seriously dislike middle book syndrome! I haven’t read this series yet, but the lack of character development and the rushed action scenes is a bummer. But, at least you found some aspects enjoyable. I really like the premise for this series, despite the issues in this one. I think I am going to check this one out! Thanks for the honest review! 😀
Literary Love Affair
I adored book one and have hops for book three. Don’t write it off just yet, despite issues it really is a wonderful series
I don’t mind dark books but I hate bad decision making. Especially if there is a lot of it. seems like I am not missing out.
I adored book one and while I still loved parts of this I tore my hair out over others..LOL I will let you know how book three turns out..and then I will know if you are missing out!
Braine Talk Supe
I really liked book 1, absinthe and all that adventures in gay Paris was exciting. I hope I’ll still like it as much, from your review it sounds like just average.
I adored book one two, and while this didn’t meet me expectations it is still worth reading.
Oh no! This is so disappointing! I’m definitely going to wait to read this until the next book comes out, otherwise I think I’d probably give up on the series, and it sounds like that would be a mistake. Thanks for your honest, balanced review!
Oh if I had known going in..i would have waited, there a good parts and bad parts and I say read it for sure..but wait till right before book three releases.
Melissa (My World...in words and pages)
I just love the looks of these books. I need them just to stare at. LOL! Thank you!
I love the covers too and despite my disappoint really like this series.
I don’t like the sound of raw and unfinished…think I’ll stay away from book one after all since this one seems to be a flop.
I adored book one, it was brilliant this..this was the worse kind of middle book.
Best advice ever about waiting to read it closer to the release of the next book!!! I may have to “steal” that advice when I run across a book with horrible cliffhangers!!! YOU ROCK!!!
hehehe..seriously this one was killer
Melissa (Books and Things)
Oh I just read a book where the girl just kept making bad decisions and I wanted to shake her. So frustrating. I also hate the sound of that ending. I will have to think on this one, but I do like you still enjoyed parts of it. Hm…
It was a killer ending, hopefully things look brighter in the book three 🙂
Thanks Kimba for the great review.
Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
What a great combination of genres! Too bad it suffered from the sophomore slump!
agreed, hopefully the next book rocks 🙂
Whew! I feel like I dodged a somewhat difficult book. I liked the first book well enough but I wasn’t over the moon over it and I just didn’t feel compelled to pick this one up. I think I would enjoy certain elements but all the issues you mentioned would turn me off as well. Hope the third book is better. I am finally back after a busy week 🙂
I am hoping it is, glad you are back 🙂
I’ve been wanting to read the 1st book, but I’ve read a few more negative reviews for this 2nd one, so I’m a little on the fence. I may wait until the next one and see what’s being said.
I enjoyed book one, and while this certainly kept me reading and had my emotions in an upheaval I personally if given the chance would read two and three back to back.
Oh my. I read very little steampunk, and have to say this doesn’t appeal to me at all. I’m glad you still want to continue the series, despite feeling disappointed.
Thanks for the helpful review!
I enjoy steampunk and book one was tight and a good start but this one left me frustrated I am hoping book three delivers.
While I always tend to gravitate toward dark books, I’m sorry to hear that word followed by “disappointing”. It’s a shame Hugh and Elle don’t communicate as well in this one, that’s one of my pet peeves when reading any kind of romance. I don’t deal well with couples who don’t communicate even though I know lack of communication is a good way to add tension to a story. It just frustrates me to no end! Not sure I’m up for a tale ending in despair at the moment, but I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts on book three and hopefully things will end a bit better!
I love dark too, but parts frustrated me and my fingers are crossed that book three redeems the series for me 🙂 thanks Jenny!
My review for this is going up today or tomorrow as well and I have a lot of similar thoughts. I still loved Elle and many of the secondary characters, but I was puzzled by a number of events. Especially that she didn’t call the Oracles back – even when things got difficult!
Exactly Christa, I know she didn’t embrace the whole Oracle thing in book one but really felt she was making progress her and then she just kept doing stupid things especially regarding the old oracles..gah and I so agree some of the threads puzzled me as well. I am anxious to see what happens though..LOL
Wow, that sounds really disappointing. I liked the sound of the first book. But you did read the ARC, any chance the final book will be polished and spruced up if more ARC readers share your opinion?
Honestly you never know and if you liked book one I would still read it..since I am dying to know what happens next..just be prepared for that middle book syndrome and read closer to release of book three..LOL
Aw sorry it didn’t work out, it would have been great if she could have ran with Elle coming into herself as oracle
thanks Brandi lets hope book three turns things around for me:)
I haven’t read this series but the blurb sounded intriguing. Too bad it was such a disappointment for you 🙁 I hope the third instalment will be better!
I do too thanks Silvia 🙂
I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you, Kim, but a lot of the things that you mentioned in your review would really bother me as well.
I can’t stand when a heroine keeps taking the wrong decisions despite being warned beforehand.
And gosh, communication problems between a couple are the worst. I can’t stand them in my books because it just adds unnecessary drama. Plus, these two were married, so I would have thought that communication would have been a big part of their relationship.
It’s a shame that you didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book, Kim. I hope the third one makes up for this mediocre second book.
Great honest review!
thanks Nick despite it all I want to know what happens next..LOL
Sharon - Obsession with Books
Aww, shame this was disappointing, an unfinished ending is the worst! hopefully the next book makes up for it, it’s just a pity there is such a long wait.
A wonderful, honest review Kimba! 🙂
I am hoping that next one is as amazing as the first one too. the darker tones don’t bother me, but I was heartbroken with the ending in this one. Love Loisa though. 🙂 Great review.
I liked the darker tones too, but the plot was disjointed and Elle frustrated me at times and oh lord I cried at the end.
Although I wasn’t enamoured with this series from the beginning, I’m disappointed for you, K., and hope book #3 will be better.
Despite the plot issues and overall annoyance I am anxious to see where it all goes. thanks Kara 🙂
Oh no! Book 2 syndrome :/
Oh no! I am sorry this was such a disappointment. It is too bad when novels feel rushed and unfinished. Truly bad second book syndrome to say the least. 🙁 Sorry you didn’t like this one more Kim.
Thanks Ali, it truly was second book syndrome 🙁