Friday, May 30, 2014

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne {review}

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
by Emma Trevayne
♦publisher: Simon & Schuster
♦release date: May 13th, 2014
♦hardcover, 320 pages
♦intended audience: Middle Grade
♦source: from publisher for honest review
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.

Review:  Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times hit the internet with its stunning cover last August and put forth a promise of an alternate London, faeries, clockwork dragons and all manner of steampunk goodness---I've been dying to read it ever since.  This was easily one of my most anticipated books of this year.  Fortunately, it was worth the wait; I loved this unique story full of magic and adventure and, much to my surprise, heartbreak.

Each year, ten-year-old Jack is shipped away to school and when he finally gets to return home, his parents are absent or negligent---too busy with work or hiding him away while they throw lavish parties. He's left in the care of the housekeeper, Mrs. Pond.  After a strange man comes to call at his house, he follows him and finds a crack in the wall near Big Ben that leads to Londinium, an alternate version of London that is all clockwork and faeries, drunken gargoyles, and souls kept in brandy bottles.  He immediately falls in love with the place and decides he wants to stay.  He befriends Beth, a clockwork girl, and Dr. Snailwater who built her.  He discovers that the strange man who led him here had evil intentions to kidnap Jack and turn him over to The Lady who will claim him as her son. When he finds out that Jack is there, he stops at nothing to force Jack into the palace.

I loved Jack’s curiosity and inquisitive mind, he was always asking why and how things worked in this new world. He’s always loved fiddling with gadgets so a clockwork world was a dream come true for him.  When he gets caught up by the sinister Lorcan, it becomes really apparent just how love-starved this poor boy is from his parent’s neglect.  He’s just trying to find somewhere that he feels wanted and when he thinks he's found it, it easily blinds him to things that are not quite right.  It’s pretty heartbreaking to see, especially when he’s forced to face the truth.

The world building is brilliant and detailed and incredibly creative, but I sometimes found myself wanting a more concrete explanation for why the world existed in the first place and it's never quite made clear where Lorcan and The Lady came from.  The whole story is a bit dreamlike, and you half expect Jack to wake up and find Londinium was all in his head (though I’m glad that wasn’t the case---I do hate that sort of ending unless I’m reading Alice in Wonderland!) It has a subtle kind of pacing through most of the story, but it was balanced with some great excitement and wonder and despair and one really fantastic ending as Jack works to solve the mystery of the clockwork phoenix and discovers where home truly is for himself.

Find Emma Trevayne online: Website  •  Twitter 

Purchase the book:  •  BookDepository   •  Indiebound  


  1. Yay! So glad to hear there's a good story to back that gorgeous cover.

  2. I've never heard of this one before, but it sounds like a whole new world of fun! I'm intrigued. Great review!:)

  3. I've never heard of this story before and the cover is absolutely amazing! I'm really surprised that I never even heard about this book. But I love stories like these and I think I'm going to give it a try once I have more spare time. Thank you for sharing such an amazing sounding book! ^_^

  4. Glad I could introduce it to you! It's such a great adventure!

  5. Definitely, the alternate London is a crazy steampunk world! I hope you find time to try this one soon!

  6. Yes, there is! It does leave a few holes open, but it's such a fun adventure it didn't bother me! A great story!

  7. Yess. So glad you enjoyed this book sweetie. <3 I cannot wait to read my copy :D Hopefully soon. As, sigh. It sounds so so good. <3 :) I cannot wait to get to know Jack. I'm glad you loved him :)

  8. this is the first I've come across this book and I'm definitely intrigued due to your review! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Your comment is here, Carina! It's not lost! :D I can't wait for you to read this one as I know you love a good MG adventure! I loved these characters and the emotional journey Jack they went through. I hope you enjoy it, too!

  10. Thanks, Erin! I hope you give this one a try!

  11. This sounds intriguing