Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.
Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.
Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack.
Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.
The Gearwing grants wishes. Or it did, before it was broken. Before it was killed.
But some things don’t stay dead forever.
What a wonderful, magical book! It pulled me out of my reading slump and launched me back into a ready-to-devour-any-book-that-comes-my-way sort of mood. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times is a lovely story from start to finish and is bursting with imagination.
There is a little bit of fairy tale to the story, paired with the most wonderful steampunk elements. It is a tale filled with magic doorways, mechanical faeries, airships and crystal balls. And yet, despite all the grand flourishes, the story is deep and meaningful. Just below the surface of the tale lies so much more. The terrible fate that is immortality, the understanding that no place or person is perfect, the evil that is jealousy, and so many more nuances that added a certain weight to the story.
Jack was a wonderful character, comprised of the equal parts selfishness and selflessness that makes up most children. He is gifted with tinkering and clockwork and is perpetually curious, intent on taking his fate in his own hands. I loved the upbeat Beth, the kind Dr. Snailwater and the eccentric Xenocrates. I especially enjoyed the scenes from Lorcan’s POV, for it made the story much more interesting.
The city of Londinium is wonderfully constructed, and the world it exists within lives beyond the pages. The world is rich in mythology and a vibrant history is hinted at. It is not a book where things simply are; explanations can be found for all but the most magical of things.
I greatly enjoyed the pacing of the novel for it lets plot elements take the time they need to develop. The story is quite brilliant in execution as well, leaving you guessing at every turn and marveling over details that suddenly become important. The overall mood of the story is a little dark, but it never ceased to evoke feelings of wonder. The only thing I didn’t like were the illustrations, which didn’t fit with the tone of the book and didn’t add much to it either.
The ending is satisfying because it is unsatisfying. It is not a happily ever after, nor is it neatly summed up. It is a little sad and a lot happy, but I liked it all the same. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Time is an unforgettable tale that is a pleasure to read. Highly recommended!