The Wickwire Watch by Jacquelyn Hagen – SPFBO Finals Review #9

Everyone is different and likes and dislikes different things. Reading is no exception. One person’s all-time favorite might seem too bland or too high stakes for another. That said, the opinions of our judges in this contest are just that, opinions. Just because we let go of a book doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It might be your next favorite, who knows?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can learn more about the contest Here.

Today we are reviewing The Wickwire Watchwhich was Weather Wax Reportfor this year’s self-published fantasy blog-off. You can read their review Here. And you can see the finalist’s spreadsheet Here.

The Wickwire Clock (cover)Do not trust anybody.

It’s the first and greatest rule Inkwell Featherfield has ever learned. It’s also the only way he knows how to survive, short of pickpocketing, dodging the law, and using every ounce of his courageous charm. But none of this will be enough to save him now.

If only he had never snooped around a dead man’s house. If only she had never found that pocket watch full of strange magic. If only he had known that the old man had snuffed him out at the hands of the ghostly Spektors, or that such dark spirits existed, for now they pursue him.

When Ink is approached by an enigmatic group offering to keep him safe, he accepts, only to discover that his rescuers are a gang of notorious fugitives. Who knew they had a talent for winemaking? Or a weakness for songs?

Thrust into a world of arcane horrors, powerful politicians, and dangers on all sides, the boy has no choice but to finally break his dominion and decide who to trust. But with all the secrets, magic and mystery gathering around him – and the stakes far higher than he ever imagined – it might be downright impossible.

I really enjoyed it The Wickwire Watch. The style reminded me a bit Rotherweirdwith a mix of intimacy, darkness, mystery, fantasy, airships and a charm all its own.

The book begins with a mysterious death, and then adds intentionally unfocused worldbuilding, which we only learn more about in small snippets, along with the main character. I also really liked the MC saying. He is a boy all alone, who gets by with theft and a little deception. He’s exuberant and reserved, and I’ve really enjoyed watching him grow while still staying true to this character.

The next part of the book feels very different, more like a cozy fantasy. It’s about life in a small village, although this village is a little different, which made it interesting to explore both the grounds and the other inhabitants. There are some darker moments running underneath, still pointing to a mysterious past, but overall it’s a more comforting part.

I like the way this book twists and turns, and the style and tone adapts to fit what we learn, as we learn it. However, it was missing something that I can’t put my finger on to truly be a favorite.

I liked it The Wickwire Watch. It felt like part dark fantasy, part cozy mystery, part… something.

With a mysterious death, I was captivated by the first chapter and was intrigued by the world and characters as we were intentionally given information about both. The main character’s past was also a mystery.

I felt like for most of the book I had thousands of questions and by the end only a couple of them were answered. And I think that was why I was missing something. Even though there were some revelations towards the end, I found that it was a bit of a struggle to get to that point.

I know a few friends who read it and loved it. And I wonder if I missed something?

The magic was interesting and my favorite parts were the ones where the main character wasn’t part of the scene… There’s a lot of story in the world and I would have liked to spend more time on it. There were so many elements to this book that should have made it a favorite, but there was something… missing. And overall it was just fun.

The Wickwire Watchit was such a conflicting book for me; months after finishing it, I can’t categorically say I enjoyed it, although there were sections I really liked.

I really enjoyed the world building. It was certainly atmospheric and I have always liked floating mansions ever since I read about it Lord Valentine’s Castlein the 80s. The opening line: “If Mr. Bash had known that this was the night he was going to die, he would have stayed home.”it was definitely a hook for me. And the first third, with the introduction of some intriguing and seductive characters, along with monsters that have “a huge pair of gaping jaws… revealing two hideous rows of silver kept me reading non-stop until I got to the middle third of the book.

The pace and excitement that made up the first half dropped and suddenly I was thrown into something apparently called “cottagecore” and, like protagonist Ink, I was bored. I found myself skipping paragraphs or rereading them and ended up putting the book aside for many weeks before picking it up again. Even though the pace picked up, it didn’t have the same energy as the first part of the book, and I was left with a sense of dissatisfaction.

The Wickwire Watch it is a story full of emotions and certainly slow paced. The novel follows the journey of Ink, a character whose unique personality is as intricate as the gears of the clock that follows the plot. His story is not standard, but is instead an engaging experience that will make you feel the charm and grit of the character.

Ink’s sharp intellect and tireless determination help them navigate a complex plot, filled to the brim with twists and turns. Ink’s interactions with the other characters are cleverly woven into the story, creating an intricate tapestry that highlights the character’s significance in the unfolding mystery.

The brilliance of the story lies in how Ink’s character is portrayed: as a beacon of strength, intelligence and humanity. Throughout the novel, Ink’s growth and transformation are palpable, making each victory more satisfying and each setback a moment of reflection for both character and reader.

While I find the book to be slower paced than I usually like, this thoughtful pace allows for a deeper immersion into the intricate world the author has created. It gives the narrative space to develop and the characters, particularly Ink, space to fully reveal themselves.

For those readers willing to embark on this literary journey, the rewards are immeasurable, culminating in a quite satisfying reading experience that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

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And again, you can see the list of all the finalists and their scores Here. Our judges are Adawia Asad, Julia Kitvaria Sarene, Kerry Smith, Lana Taylor, Robert Max Freeman, Yaniv Rosenfeld Cohen, and Jennie Ivins (me). If you would like to know more about us, including our likes and dislikes, you can read about us Here.

Any questions should be directed to me, Jennie Ivins, via DM at Facebook AND Twitter.

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