Friday Review: Mainspring by Jay Lake

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The story is interesting. It revolves around Hethor, apprentice to a New Haven CT clockmaker in an alternate Earth steampunk society. The Earth here rotates around the sun on a gigantic brass gear system. Hethor is visited by an entity claiming to be the Angel Gabriel and is told the mainspring of the world is running down and Hethor must find the Key Perilous and rewind it.

It’s a different take on the classic quest story. The steampunk elements are done well, with air ships and many other things you would expect in a story of this type. The problem I had with it was that the style made the book read slowly to me. It was a bit stilted and stiff, which I think was meant to evoke the strict Puritan-like upbringing Hethor has had until his visitation. But I found it awkward and slow going.

One of the problems I had with the story is that there seemed to be a real lack of tension. Despite running into roadblocks and malicious opponents, it never really felt like Hethor was in true danger or that he would not, in the end, fulfill his quest. That left the second half of the book feeling a bit flat.

There are some original ideas here, and the world-saving quest is a tried-and-true story foundation, but the language and some pacing problems left me a little disappointed in the end.


Finally, a reminder- you have 4 more days to enter to win a paperback copy of my book of short stories! Enter here:

OR comment on this blog post:

Ten copies are being given away on Goodreads, and five from the blog.


Six of One

Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.

Download a free sample or purchase in your favorite ebook format at:

Also available at:

Amazon: (Now also in paperback)

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