“Would you like to go on a suicide mission?” she asked instead.
He smiled. It was the first genuine smile she’d seen all day.
“I would be honored,” he said.
I one-clicked both of these books after reading this blurb:
A paladin, an assassin, a forger, and a scholar ride out of town. It’s not the start of a joke, but rather an espionage mission with deadly serious stakes. T. Kingfisher’s new novel begins the tale of a murderous band of criminals (and a scholar), thrown together in an attempt to unravel the secret of the Clockwork Boys, mechanical soldiers from a neighboring kingdom that promise ruin to the Dowager’s city.
If they succeed, rewards and pardons await, but that requires a long journey through enemy territory, directly into the capital. It also requires them to refrain from killing each other along the way! At turns darkly comic and touching, Clockwork Boys puts together a broken group of people trying to make the most of the rest of their lives as they drive forward on their suicide mission.
Also, KJ Charles talked about them on GR and gave both glowing reviews.
I’m reviewing these together since it’s really one book, split in half, to make reading easier. I kind of went into these books with zero expectations, mainly because I’ve never read this author under this pen name or her YA counterpart Ursula Vernon. But, holy crap I wish that I had found her earlier, I adored these characters and their adventure. This might just be one of the most hilarious fantasy books I’ve ever read, at one point I couldn’t contain myself and laughed out loud for about ten minutes straight.
The first book in the series, Clockwork Boys, focuses on introducing the main protagonists, defining their relationships with each other, and setting up the world-building. I would call this high fantasy, just on a smaller scale, and with limited cast of characters. I liked that. They are all more anti-hero than hero hero. Slate is a forger/lock picker who is absolutely one of the best drawn heroines I’ve ever read. I loooooved her. Caliban is a paladin, who is plucked from a prison by Slate and chosen to accompany her and her team on their suicidal mission. The atrocities he committed while demon possessed are still fresh in his mind, and although his demon is now dead, it will stay with him forever. Brenner is an assassin and the former lover of Slate. You never quite know what is going on in his head. Learned Edmund is the final member of the team introduced in the first book and he’s a nineteen year old follower of the Many-Armed God who is a genius, but also doesn’t have a super high opinion of women. Which makes his and Slate’s banter quite interesting. :)
The Wonder Engine, the second book in this duology, is the group amassing a few more friends and getting to the heart of the matter, what the adventure is all about, which is figuring out how to stop the Clockwork Boys and destroying the Wonder Engine. I think there was more action in this installment, but with the same witty banter and laugh out loud moments. The group felt more cohesive, more like a small found family, rather than a mashed together group of criminals. The addition of Grimehug the gnole to the group was welcome and I adored his character. THERE IS A YUMMY ROMANCE, and some seriously intense pining from afar. The conclusion took me by surprise, but in a good way.
Look, even if high fantasy might not quite be your jam, you should definitely give this series a try. The characters are quirky and wonderfully flawed and I promise that you will belly laugh at least once. Another book was released in this world and it’s taking all the willpower I have to wait until my review books are read and reviews written before I one-click and devour.
Buy Links for Clockwork Boys:
Buy Links for The Wonder Engine
Secret Lives by Sierra Dean 12/6– I wanted to crack this baby open this week, but life got in the way. It’s up next.
Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt 12/18– This is the first book in a new series and I am super excited. Review to post next Monday.
How to Live an Undead Lie by Hailey Edwards 12/11- THE RELEASE DATE GOT MOVED UP. OMG. It’s like an early Christmas present or something. Review will post next Monday.