Simmonds’ time-crossed romp leaps through the Londons of the 1800s, 1940s, and 1980s, moving swiftly but always finding time for evocative London period detail, such as peasoupers, unused passenger transit tunnels, and the frankly disgusting history of the River Thames. Wells, a college dropout from La Claire, Iowa, is a likable every-Yank bumbling about London, and the cast around him is fully realized.
Witty dialogue (“The love of my life is missing, and we’ve got a gang of, what? Villainous, homicidal travel agents after us?”) bring a lightness to the story that will appeal to readers who don’t ordinarily read heady time-travel fiction. While the prose is inviting, outside of the occasional awkward sentence, Simmonds’ affection for detail sometimes slows a story that’s already lengthy, as do some expositional passages covering the mechanics of time travel. Still, Simmonds manages the intricacies of time-hopping well, creating a consistent set of rules comprehensible to the reader while maintaining a sense of humor and excitement that keeps the story and its Londons fresh.
Takeaway: A lovable everyman leads a page-turning, decade-vaulting jaunt through London’s past and present.
Great for fans of: Mike Chen’s Here and Now and Then, Tara Sim’s Timekeeper.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+
Selected for Indie Books We Love by LoveReading.co.uk
The plot flowed well, there's a lot of description and historic detail that the author is clearly either very knowledgeable, or has been very well researched. I liked Will, his character is well-rounded and dynamic, and I enjoyed following his story. The story is captivating with lots of mystery, suspicious characters and questions raised to keep you turning the pages, eager to discover more. Travel with William through his exciting journey and enjoy a thrilling and riveting read.
Protagonist William Wells and his trusty sidekick Frenz Belingi both feel well rounded, and their excellent character development truly enriches the story. Simmonds has nailed the development of the characters throughout the book.
If you enjoy time-travelling novels, then this book is a no brainer. It is filled with fast-paced action that will leave the reader on the edge of their seat. In addition, the character progression is done brilliantly. I also love how Simmonds was able to masterfully weave real-world historical events into his narrative and tie them into the events of his novel.
A whirlwind of an adventure set in the eternally mysterious city of London, The Timepiece and the Girl Who Went Astray by O.R. Simmonds is a bold and meticulously penned thriller. William Wells only wanted a special gift for his girlfriend, but his thoughtfulness sends him spiraling into the midst of a horological battle stretching back generations. Boasting a sprawling vocabulary, visceral descriptions, and a discerning narrative voice that never reveals too much, this time-bending novel will appeal to physicists, anglophiles, treasure hunters, and sci-fi lovers alike. Simmonds echoes the declarative formality of certain English mystery writers, but also displays a whimsical, philosophical bent that makes this book a delightful and thought-provoking escape.
Self-Publishing Review, ★★★★★