Welcome to my stop on the ‘Hour of Mischief’ blog tour! I hadn’t read a high fantasy novel in a very long time, and a high fantasy with steampunk overtones? That’s something I was unable to miss. The aesthetic of steampunk is one of my very favourite things, but I’ve never read a novel about it before – I was very interested to see how it would play out. Haven’t heard of ‘Hour of Mischief’? Here’s the blurb:
Born in a whorehouse in the slums of Fortuna and burdened with a prosthetic arm, seventeen-year-old Janet Redstone doesn’t think she owes the Clockwork Gods anything–which is why she makes a living stealing from their temples. But when she lands her team in prison, making a pact with the God of Mischief, Itazura, is the only way to right her wrongs and free her friends.
Janet doesn’t trust Itazura as far as she can punch him, but with her soul in his hands, she has no choice but to do what he says. The clockwork gods and the bad-tempered elder gods of the ancient past are locked in a game of cat and mouse and the human realms are caught in the middle. If Janet can’t somehow convince the gods to step in and save the world, humanity is in an abyss of trouble.
Using her unconventional wits, an impressive tolerance to alcohol, and a strong right hook, Janet has to convince the gods that humanity is worth saving. Unfortunately, it’s a lot more difficult to stop an apocalypse when you’re slowly being driven crazy by the Lord of Mischief, especially when he starts growing on you.
‘Hour of Mischief’ is definitely one of the more mind-blowing books I’ve ever read. There’s an extreme amount to take in at the beginning, so I’m going to try to break it down a little bit for you…
In the world of Memoria, there are four hands on the clock face: the hours, the minutes, the seconds and the seasons. There are four human realms: Fortuna, the realm where we spend most of our time, Tiyata, the desert realm, Cambiare, the empty realm, and Kabila… Which we don’t really find out anything about. There is the Clockmaster, the Mother and Father, and four elder gods, as well as countless minor gods, none of which we get too much backstory for. And then there are the twelve Clockwork Gods, listed below:
Itazura: the God of Mischief
Laelatia: the Goddess of Merriment
Kalite: the Goddess of Water
Kova: the Goddess of War
Axira: the Goddess of Death
Meroquio: the God of Love
Amontillado: the God of Abundance
Cheveyo: the God of Animals
Artifex: the God of Craftsmen
Celine: the Goddess of Night
Aelius: the Goddess of Day
Viden and Kaval: the twin Gods of Wisdom
Getting to terms with the geography and mythology of the world was the one thing that really hampered my enjoyment of the first half of the novel, because it felt like new gods were being introduced every couple of minutes – there are only fleeting references to Aelius, Celine and Cheveyo, but because the context of what god they are is important, the mentions didn’t make sense until later in the novel. It would have been interesting to have a ‘Who’s who’ introduction page at the beginning of the book, so that it was easier to immediately grasp.
Other than feeling the confusion – which, to be honest, I feel in any high fantasy book I read! – I really enjoyed this novel. We get introduced to Janet and her group of three friends – Sid, Parker and Sylvia – the night before they perform a high difficulty heist, stealing a precious object from Amontillado’s temple of worship. Sylvia gets caught in the act, and the rest of the team surrender despite the fact that she wants them to run and get away. The guards decide to take Janet away for questioning because she’s the leader of the group – they want to get an idea of how many temples the group have stolen from in the past.
This is where the plot really starts to speed ahead. Itazura sneaks Janet out from the questioning room, and after convincing her to help him they make a blood pact. He promises to free her team members as soon as she can persuade some of his fellow Clockwork Gods to spread the word on the apocalypse – Itazura’s realm of mischief cannot function without human troublemakers, so he’s opposed to keeping the apocalypse a secret, but the gods will not listen to his pleas.
I can’t go too much into the rest of the plot without giving spoilers, but just know that Janet’s main quest is to convince the Clockwork Gods that humans are worthwhile to save. She’s in a lot of danger because of her alliance with Itazura, but because of the guilt and loyalty she feels towards her friends she perseveres on with the task at hand.
All of these things mean that I really like Janet. She is a very badass heroine, and she doesn’t put up with shit from anybody. There are a couple of moments where Itazura wants her to completely disregard her morals and beliefs to help him properly, but she stands her ground – she has very firm boundaries, and no amount of pressure will make her change her mind which makes her brilliantly strong-willed.
Other than Janet, there are only really two characters that we interact with, and those are Itazura and the Goddess of Merriment, Laelatia. I liked how the gods and goddesses were written, because it was believable that they were higher entities – they were human enough to be realistic, but the language and characteristics they inhibited made them feel ethereal and otherworldy. It’s difficult to write a character that’s supposed to be a higher entity, because they should always feel untouchable – if they’re too human, they won’t be benevolent or transcendent, so the plot will be weak. That was not the case here.
I really did enjoy the plot. I always enjoy quest novels, so having one this well-crafted was a treat. There was a very specific goal in mind, and steps to take to get to it – it wasn’t a simple conclusion, and it did make you worry that it wouldn’t be completed in time. Having the reward of her friends being released from their imprisonment was a great inclusion too: you could feel that there was a real reason for her to be saving humankind, rather than just the goodness of her own heart and a bit of spare time.
The only thing I didn’t really like about the book was the fact that it was the first one in a series, and I didn’t know that before picking it up. This might have been my fault – maybe I didn’t research it properly – but it meant that instead of a clean and tidy resolution there were so many loose ends left all over the place. Throughout the whole novel, Itazura kept saying to Janet “later”, and promised to regale her with all of his half told tales later – it just means we have to wait a little bit longer to get the information. As someone who enjoys instant gratification and has hardly an iota of patience, this wasn’t the best news for me.
Other than that one negative, I highly recommend ‘Hour of Mischief’ – especially if you’re looking to start a new series! The back story is well planned out, so the world and the characters are very believable, and having a small cast rather than a large ensemble means you really get to know the key characters. There are fabulous action sequences and some great fight scenes, and it’s extremely fast-paced. I finished the book within a day, which is something I struggle to do with high fantasy and was a brilliant surprise! So if you’re looking for something a bit different, you should pick up this novel.
Aimee Hyndman has been writing ever since her toddler fingers could grasp a pencil. A lover of all things speculative fiction, she spent many a night penning the beginnings of novels that would never see the light of day. Now attending college in Iowa, double majoring in Creative Writing and English, she has clearly never lost her love of the craft. Her area of specialty is fantasy of all sorts but she dabbles in many genres–whatever she feels compelled to write at the moment. The plot bunnies are never ending but, luckily, so are the words!
When not writing and avoiding her school work, Aimee enjoys reading, singing, and acting at her school’s theater department. She is also a lover of anime and all things Disney.
Once again, I need to thank Curiosity Quills for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour, and for sending me a copy of the book. I just can’t wait for the next installment!