Review: The Havoc Machine (Clockwork Empire, #4) by Steven Harper

May 9, 2013 Review 0 ★★★★

Review: The Havoc Machine (Clockwork Empire, #4) by Steven HarperThe Havoc Machine by Steven Harper
Series: Clockwork Empire, #4
Genres: Steampunk
Published by Roc on May 7, 2013
Pages: 400 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Reviewed by: Kristina
4 Stars
In a world riddled with the destruction of men and machines alike, Thaddeus Sharpe takes to the streets of St. Petersburg, geared toward the hunt of his life…

Thaddeus Sharpe’s life is dedicated to the hunting and killing of clockworkers. When a mysterious young woman named Sofiya Ekk approaches him with a proposition from a powerful employer, he cannot refuse. A man who calls himself Mr. Griffin seeks Thad’s help with mad clockwork scientist Lord Havoc, who has molded a dangerous machine. Mr. Griffin cares little if the evil Lord lives or dies; all he desires is Havoc’s invention.

Upon Thad’s arrival at Havoc’s laboratory, he is met with a chilling discovery. Havoc is not only concealing his precious machine; he has been using a young child by the name of Nikolai for cruel experiments. Locked into a clockwork web of intrigue, Thad must decipher the dangerous truth surrounding Nikolai and the chaos contraption before havoc reigns…

One of the great things about THE HAVOC MACHINE is the fantastic introduction at the beginning to catch new readers like me up on the previous events of the Clockwork Empire series. While the introduction was a wonderful summary its not necessary the enjoyment and understanding of THE HAVOC MACHINE plot which is a fun classic steampunk adventure story.

Aside from the thrilling adventure and neat steampunk contraptions there are also some interesting ideas on weighing the nature of clockworkers (super intelligent inventors created by the clockwork plague) and their automatons. Are the worthy of being equal to humans since they have their own ideas, free will, and ability to learn and grow? I enjoyed how these questions are molded around Thaddeus’ own tragic backstory with his family and his growing relationship with Sofiya and Nikolai.

Thaddeus, Sofiya, and Nikolai all work as a team really well and fill the voids in each other’s lives even though Thaddeus is reluctant to do so almost to his own detriment.  Thaddeus is a fun character being part clockworker hunter and part sword swallower in a circus. His involvement with the circus plays a huge part in THE HAVOC MACHINE and the number of circus performances featured in this story were bizarre and awesome in a way only a steampunk story with a circus performer as the lead can be.

The various plot twists in THE HAVOC MACHINE were surprising and fun including the identity of the villain. The tone of the story is pretty dark and intense so it comes off as very jarring when the villain is a maniacal, cartoonish, mad scientist like character.  While I thought the villain belonged in some other story, THE HAVOC MACHINE is a fun, dark, plot twisty steampunk story and wonderful end to The Clockwork Empire series.

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