Book Review: Legacy of the Clockwork Key

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Legacy of the Clockwork Key by Kristin Bailey




Genre: Steampunk, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, YA
Author: Kristin Bailey
Published: February 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 432 {paperback}

Original review on Goodreads

Legacy of the Clockwork Key

Legacy of the Clockwork Key is a hidden gem! I’m a real sucker for Steampunk and this was just so much fun cover to cover. If you don’t know what Steampunk is then I would recommend googling it as I’m sure my definition will be terrible but hey ho: it’s usually a novel that takes place in the 19th century (sometimes early 20th) and has a heavy focus on mechanical machinery that has cool clogs and often lots of steel and brass. The machines are usually leaning towards the fantastical and are the perfect excuse to have a wicked adventure in an older period. Which means that it’s super cool and you end up with characters that look odd, like:

Although, Meg doesn’t look like that at all. In my mind.

LOTCK, as I’m going to call it, revolves around this mystery of a murderer and a unique key that our protagonist, Meg, owns. In a fire, she lost her family and was taken in by a man by the name of Rathford. She’s stuck in a seemingly time-locked house where she never sees Rathford but everything must remain in the same condition as the day his wife died. Meg ends up on this crazy journey accompanied by Will, a Scottish hotty (he’s MINE, ladies, back off) and it’s just terrifically awesome. Down to earth maid + Scottish grumpass = steampunk wonderland. Also, brownie points for the series’ name, “The Secret Order”, ooh, so mysterious! It’s so very accurate, I just loved how cloaked in secrecy everything was. Oh, and it’s also set in London – the ultimate Steampunk setting, and you mustn’t forget the blimps. Steampunk London is not Steampunk London sans blimps.

Steampunk Heaven

I often feel like Steampunk is a widely under-explored genre. Sure there’s a lot of fiction/fantasy that leans towards and borrows from it, but a full-blown Steampunk novel is just so much fun. The contraptions in this and the inventions were mind boggling. As a lot of the story revolves around crazy inventors, Bailey has basically given herself the green card to UNLEASH her imagination. And I commend her – it’s fabulous. This book has everything from mechanical horses to an automaton-controlled sailing boat. You name it kiddo. If you’re looking for a great dose of unique adventure, you’ve found it. And besides, if you don’t enjoy Steampunk (good Steampunk, that is) on some level then there’s something wrong with you.

Meg & Will

It was no surprise that there was going to be some intense friction between these two. As soon as a male character was introduced I raised my eyebrows in a I-know-where-this-is-going way. I should probably pause here to say that if anyone walks up to me with a Scottish accent I will befriend them immediately. And maybe then steal them and force them to talk forever. Which may or may not stem from my love of David Tennant.

I 100% ship these two together. The friction between them is highly entertaining because they so clearly like each other but are beating around the bush. Not to mention the unspoken banter between them and Lucinda and Oliver later on.

I was going to put a really hilarious quote here, but a) I forgot to tab anything as I read, and, b) there’s a grand total of one quote on it’s Goodreads page. So . . . sorry about that, maybe just giggle anyway and we can both feel better. Ta.

Meg was a great leading lady in this story. Well-educated, she’s equipped with skills that are almost entirely useless for tackling the challenges. Nonetheless, she always puts on a brave face and meets them head on. I’m really excited to pick up the sequel to read more of her.

Will is just awesome. Okay, his Scottish-ness is awesome. But he’s a beautifully tormented character as well. He’s going through this painful silent struggle with his feelings for Meg as they’re not in the same social class and therefore “can’t” be together. Pah, silly rules. He’s a wonderful broody character (within measure) and don’t those characters always blossom into the greatest heroes? Anyway, I’m making this sound far too much like a Romance novel.


If you asked me to count off my favourite things in fiction after “J. K. Rowling’s name on the cover”, and, “Scottish men”, a gauntlet-style challenge would sit in a comfortable 3rd position. Now, strictly speaking, this is not a gauntlet, but the characters have to solve one trying segment of a challenge one after another and each poses a new threat. Once all are completed, they will supposedly reach whatever our band of characters are trying to get. There’s plenty of gasp-worthy moments and plenty of times when you’re a bit worried someone might die (or something equally dramatic). This kind of adventure is basically an automatic thumbs up for me!


If you enjoy reading Steampunk then this is another wonderful series that you’ll enjoy. The characters are lovable and, in my opinion, well developed. If you’re looking at trying some Steampunk then this is a great series to start with, you’ll love it especially if you’re a fan of YA or fantasy (or Sci-Fi). I cannot wait to get the second book and start reading that. I’m very curious to see where this series is heading! #TeamWill


Have you read LOTCK? Are you a fan of Steampunk? Let me know in the comments below!

Arrivederci tutti and happy reading!

~~ Kirstie ~~

//  //

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