Hello readers! Let’s dive right in, shall we?
So this week I had the privilege of reading “Hour of Mischief” by Amiee Hyndman as part of the Curiosity Quills Press review tour. Ms. Hyndman is an English and Creative Writing student in Iowa, and this is her first published book. I shall do my best to be spoiler-free!
Let’s start with what I liked. The book is a rollicking, fast paced romp through a steam-punk fantasy world, full of thieves, gods, and clockwork touches galore. I’m not sure I’ve previously read a book with quite such literal interpretations on the steampunk trappings–everything from the idioms people used in dialogue to the jewelry to the gods to the physical landscape was focused on the clock-work vibe. I enjoy that kind of dedication to world-building, and it totally worked. And maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I caught Deist undertones to the clock-based world–something that both a) makes sense in a world where the head god is literally called “The Clockmaker” and b) something that would fascinating to explore in greater philosophical depth.
Really my favorite thing about the book was the overall tone. Too often ‘genre fiction’, perhaps seeking the kind of validation ‘realistic’ or ‘literary’ fiction receives, falls into what I like to call the angst-pit. I’m poor! My mother’s a prostitute! My parents died! I’m the Chosen One! Life is so hard! Wah! This book, on the other hand, acknowledges the emotions without wallowing in them, and has cracking good witty dialogue to hoist the reader out of the pit every few pages. The relationship between the two main characters, Janet and God of Mischief Itazura, wavers between the power struggle implicit in a Faustian bargain and the absurdity of a buddy-cop movie. They were fun, clever, and I enjoyed spending time with both of them.
My issues with the book are mostly nit-picky. The whole ‘ring-ed city separated by social class’ thing is overdone. The ‘my mother’s a whore and so I don’t trust men’ thing is overdone. Anyone who writes about a fantasy hero with a metal arm does so in the shadow of “Full-metal Alchemist“. For a YA book I was a bit uncomfortable with the treatment of alcohol–though maybe that just means I’m turning into an old person. But really my main complaint is that the whole thing is too short. At just over 200 pages, and with its lightening-fast pace, the book screeches to a halt after the first high-stakes confrontation and essentially says ‘to be continued.’
Come on now. It took me just two hours to whip through the book. At that pace, it could have been twice as long and I wouldn’t have complained. I know that the publisher has a specialty in serials, so it’s probably my own fault for thinking this would be a stand-alone, but I still think it could have been longer and no one would mind.
Overall? Hour of Mischief will take you on a fun adventure through an inventive steam-punk world. It isn’t going to leave you feeling all the Feels, but you will probably chuckle and enjoy the ride.
Available on Amazon.
P.S. I’d love to chat with the author to hear where she got her names for the gods. Some of them are real words, some of them aren’t and I’m confused and intrigued in the best possible way.