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Book Review: Clockwork Universe – Author John W. Dennehy

CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE

A STEAMPUNK THRILLER

By John W. Dennehy

98 Pages

When Kevin waits on a platform for a commuter train to Boston something most surreal unfolds. A beautiful stranger named Sarah introduces herself after he awakens from a nap. One glimpse around he realizes something is dreadfully amiss. Everyone is dressed and composes oneself seemingly from an entirely different era. As time begins to lapse Kevin soon realizes his very presence in this strange new world may be bigger than anything he could possibly fathom in his wildest dreams.

Clockwork Universe will mark the first reading odyssey I’ve chartered upon with John W. Dennehy at the helm. Being introduced to a new author is very comparable to being introduced in a social situation to a complete stranger. It can be exciting, invigorating in fact and at times just a touch intimidating. Dennehy manages to put his reading audience at ease within a paragraph or two. As the collective audience we find ourselves slipping under his spell exploring deeper and deeper into the plot as it unravels.

This novella can be readily described as an exhilarating mish-mash steampunk adventure. There’s plenty of suspense, action and arguably even a slice of science fiction. With just a dash of comedic interlude and romance, author Dennehy’s design crafts something most unique promising to satiate the thirst of readers from all walks of life.

Its evident this writer has previously embarked upon an extensive amount of research prior to this project. His demonstrated applied knowledge of the 19th century is uncanny as reflected through apparel, customs, morals, values, art, literature, speech and mannerisms. As a result we question not the authenticity of the story as we’re lured further into the fray while the sense of suspended realism is enhanced. The proclamation of ‘blazes’ becomes a touch over indulgent from time to time and it begins to appear a bit satirical. It really doesn’t divert any attention to the plot development however and is a relative non-issue.

The creature of the Rhino-pard is highly imaginative an incidentally our designated antagonist and origin of conflict. While many other creature thrillers surmise to either demonic type entities or space aliens, Dennehy crafts a most innovative monster from a hybrid of mammals that already roam the earth. The cross breeding is nothing shy of a ghastly abomination, forever preying upon the readership’s sense of intensifying dread.

It’s somewhat bizarre how characters Sarah, Cunningham and Niles are so swift to accept a punk rocker fully equipped with prominent Mohawk, piercings and such. They put up minimal protest and simply accept that their dear new companion Kevin most hail from a strange land, perhaps the Orient. It adds to the comedic attributes of the plot escalation and doesn’t really miss a heartbeat.

As the interaction between contemporary and transcended Kevin and Sarah begins to develop one cannot deny how endearing the two become. Add Niles and Cunningham into the mix we suddenly have a bona-fide foundation for players in synch in conceptualising a rock solid thriller with plenty of intrigue and comedy.

The romantic subtext between Kevin and Sarah will play upon the heart strings of all the hopeless Harlequin dwellers out there. In fact one would have to be fashioned of complete stone to be entirely impervious to the admiration the two have for one another. We find ourselves living vicariously through each hoping to witness at least one profess their undying love for one another.

The action is consistent and moves at a ravenous pace. The ninety eight pages will generally be consumed by most within two to three sittings. Coincidentally Clockwork Universe may be a read best enjoyed in the morning commute to work. I trust readers will realize the parallels in this case.

Clockwork Universe concludes with a heightened climax most readers will not see coming. The finale leaves the doors wide open for potential, future adventures. This particular adventure would translate brilliantly to screen. For fans of period fantasy, sci-fi or something simply out of the ordinary a most definite recommendation.

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