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Blog Tour Review: A Clockwork River by J S Emery

Today is my stop on the A Clock River book tour. Thank you Paige Harris from Head of Zeus
for inviting me on this tour.

Twitter: @HoZ_Books
Facebook: Head of Zeus Books


Time is running out for the Clockwork River.

Lower Rhumbsford is a city far removed from its glory days. On the banks of the great river Rhumb, its founding fathers channelled the river’s mighty flow into a subterranean labyrinth of pipes, valves and sluices, a feat of hydraulic prowess that would come to power an empire. But a thousand years have passed since then, and something is wrong: the pipes are leaking, the valves stuck, the sluices silted and the once torrential Rhumb has been reduced to a sluggish trickle.

The fortunes of the Locke family, descendants of the city’s most celebrated engineer, are similarly reduced. In a once fashionable quarter of the once great city, siblings Samuel and Briony Locke distract themselves: Sam tends to his vast lock collection instead of finishing his engineering thesis; facing the prospect of a disagreeable marriage, Briony occupies herself with alchemical experiments.

One night Samuel leaves the house carrying five of his most precious locks and doesn’t come back. As she searches for her brother, Briony will be drawn into a web of ancestral secrets and imperial intrigues as a ruthless new power arises. If brother and sister are to be reunited, they will need the help of a tight-lipped house spirit, a convict gang, a tribe of troglodytes, an association of antiques enthusiasts, a travelling theatrical troupe, the Ladies Whist Club, the Deep State, and a lovesick mouse.

Epic, rollicking and in love with language, Jacob and Sara Emery’s sprawling debut novel of humble kitchen magics and awe-inspiring civil engineering is a rare and delicious commodity – the world’s first hydropunk novel.


Well, my goodness this is one huge beast of a book.  An epic and sweeping tale which transports you into a dark hydropunk world with a wide and diverse cast of characters.  We follow the impoverished Locke family, namely Samuel and Briony Locke, a quirky and interesting brother and sister duo.  An unusual premise this novel is set alongside the banks of the River Rhumb, where vast stores of water are channelled from the river and are carried through tubes to power the city of Lower Rhumbsford.  It’s a decidedly odd tale with a really strange feel about it, it’s almost reads like a old-fashioned play or classical novel.  As someone who has never read anything remotely like it before, I found it new and refreshing and I really liked the combination of the hydro, fantasy and historical elements.  

The writing is good and it’s easy to follow, although I did find it just that little bit too long-winded and had this not been part of a book tour I may have struggled to get to the end.  You definitely need to set aside and invest a good amount of time to immerse yourself in the story and slowly take the time to read and digest it.  The world building is brilliant and this distinctly grimy and run-down world is explored in great depth and detail by the authors.  The map at the front is really useful, as always a map in a book of this magnitude is always an added bonus to give the reader a sense of location.

A Clockwork River is a sprawling and lengthy read at over 700 pages, it’s quite exhausting to read in one go and for that reason I think this would have been better suited as a duology.  Nevertheless it’s worth persevering with, it’s a unique and interesting read and if you are a fan of steampunk inspired novels (or as this one has been categorised ‘hydropunk’), detailed worlds and amazing characters you definitely need to pick this one up.

Publisher:  Head of Zeus
Publication Date (UK):  14 October 2021
Format:  Hardback
Page Count:  736
Genre:  Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Steam Punk
Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Purchase Link: Amazon

About the authors:

J. S. Emery is a brother-sister writing team, born in North Idaho into a homeschooling family of seven children, each of whom received an air rifle and a copy of The Odyssey by way of a fifth birthday present. This background prepared them wonderfully for writing fantasy novels but very poorly for formal education. After dropping out of secondary school, they worked jobs including ballet dancer, emergency room janitor, and map librarian in various parts of Europe and North America. They now live in the United States, where they are godparents (and, increasingly, dungeon masters) to one another’s children.

Thank you to the publisher for the gifted advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I hope you enjoyed this review.  For my current reads, recommendations and anything else book related, please follow me on Instagram , Goodreads or Twitter

Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊 

Happy reading!


Twisted in Pages Blog


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