on September 7, 2011
I became a fan of Helen Scott Taylor with her first book, The Magic Knot. Her lyrical writing and amazing imagination give you characters you'll remember for a long time, along with stories that take you away into a land of magic that dazzles with danger and romance. Her new book, A Clockwork Fairytale, is no exception. The fact that it's a young adult book makes it that much more endearing, watching a young love blossom in the face of fear and a hunger never felt before.
Melba is running around the city picking pockets and filching food and whatever else is needed to survive -- all disguised as a boy. She's been in the care of Master Maddox her entire life, never knowing her parents or where she comes from. One night she's in the wrong place at the wrong time, and her life dramatically changes. Opportunity has given her the chance to spy for Master Turk, the best in the business, and she's determined not to waste this moment. Even at 17 she has high aspirations in the spy game, along with a will to get her where she wants to go. This night Turk is her savior, so maybe her luck has already started to change.
Deciding at the last minute to take Mel under his wing, Turk exchanges pledges with the lad and they head toward Mel's new home, one supplied to Turk by the Shining Brotherhood. It's not long, however, before things begin to unravel and Turk discovers he's harboring a girl - who is also the long-lost Princess Melbaline, no longer the abducted child but a young woman now on the cusp of a new life. Knowing his duty is to return Melba to her father, Turk, with the blessing of his master with the Brotherhood, begins to teach her how to be a lady and a princess and also how to bring forth her magic.
Once Melba's gender is no longer an issue and she's no longer a candidate for a spy, she begins to see the world differently - first the luxury of Turk's home and all that comes with it and then Turk himself. Her feelings and emotions are just blossoming and Turk is her knight in shining armor. What she doesn't know yet is who she is. There are those who would still do what it takes to keep her from the palace, so Turk trains her in secrecy. Their attraction grows over the course of the weeks they're together, but Turk knows Melba can never be his. Aside from the fact she's royalty, he's also never told her he's a monk with the Brotherhood.
When she learns what Turk has in store for her, Melba wants none of it, only desiring to stay with Turk. But her father awaits and the day comes when Melba returns home at last. And then the trouble truly begins. While she's known the fear and angst of living from hand to mouth, Melba has never known true fear at the hands of another. Being at the mercy of a man using magic for his own evil gains slowly turns into a nightmare for both Turk and Melba. But love prevails as they work together to right the wrongs that have hung over the royal house for so many years.
In and among this beautiful historical story is Earth magic, the raising of Jinns, a type of earth spirit, that are mostly used for good, but there's also someone who uses them for ill. Turk is thrown into confusion at the attitude of his master toward his need and want of Melba. Melba is just as confused as to why Turk would rather give her away to duty than stay with her. They take to the rooftops and the underments of the city to race against time and danger. There are inter-related characters who all take on very different personas throughout, quirky to crazy, and they're all quite interesting. Dante the Trash King is one I especially like.
If you've yet to read to Helen Scott Taylor's Magic Knot Fairies books, don't bypass the beginning of this new series. Helen Scott Taylor will become a favorite of yours too.
Melba was dropped off at the baker's house when she was only three years old. Maddox has raised her best he can, but raises her as one of the boys. So, Melba dressed like a boy, acts like a boy, and is very intelligent and one of the best thieves and pickpockets in the area.
When she is cornered one evening, her savior comes in the form of Turk, a man known as a master spymaster. Melba knows an opportunity when she sees it and asks Turk to pledge her and teach her how to be a master spy. He agrees, but once she takes a bath, he realizes it won't work. First, she is a girl and there are no female spies. Second, she has twelve toes and there is only one family he knows with that deformity, the Royal family. He does some research and is sure she is the missing princess.
Turk is a monk and he discusses Melba with his on master. They decide to teach Melba how to act and dress like a lady before they present her to her father, the king, and reap the rich reward. But there is something about Melba that enchants Turk and he tries really hard to be true to his vows.
Vittorio feels he was robbed of the throne. His father never claimed him as a son, and his father, the older brother of the king, never wanted the throne, so his younger brother, Melba's dad, took it. Now, he will do whatever it takes to acquire his seat at the throne, even if it means finding and marrying the princess.
Turk and Melba fall in love but Turk never tells her that he is a monk. He makes sure not to touch her person at all. When Melba learns she is the princess, she pleads for Turk to marry her. Then, they will never be apart, but Turk rejects her offer. First, he never told her he was a monk and second, her father would never allow it. Turk is not a prince. When she finds out he is a monk and was using her, she never wants to see him again.
However, Vittorio won't leave Melba's side and she isn't feeling well lately. Her father is dying and Vittorio wants Turk dead. Melba secretly meets with Turk and she forgives him but vows she will not marry Vittorio, no matter what. But Vittorio controls very powerful, dark and twisted magic and he will use it to his every advantage, even if it cost lives.
A Clockwork Fairytale is a refreshing romance with a twist of supernatural. Melba is a delightful character, Turk is dark and handsome and will make the girls swoon and Vittorio is dastardly. Helen builds each character carefully and cleverly, with the story spinning at a splendid rate, keeping this reader entranced. A satisfactory ending but alluding to another installment in the adventures of Melba and Turk that I can't wait to read! If you love fairytale romances with a splash of the supernatural, an evil spurned illegitimate child and the blush of first love, you won't want to miss A Clockwork Fairytale!!
on January 14, 2012
4 1/2 stars
Raised as a boy, seventeen year old Melba is one of the best pick pockets on Royal Malverne Isle but she yearns to move up in the ranks and become a spy. Her dreams come true when she and spymaster Turk run across each other's paths and he accepts her pledge to join his gang. Not realizing Melba is a girl, Turk takes her to his castle to feed and clean up where he makes more than one startling discovery, not only is she a girl but she just might be royalty. Turk's master insists he turn Melba into a young lady and return her to the home she was taken from long ago. Neither Turk or Melba are who they seem to be and begin a journey of discovery, wonder and even love as Turk teaches Melba earth magic, manners and how to be who she was destined to become, along the way running from bad Jinns, good monks and creating flutterflies.
A Clockwork Fairytale is an enjoyable mixture of steampunk, Victorian romance and fantasy. Melba is a contradiction of streetwise urchin and naïve young lady. She can pick a pocket, find her way through the sewer system and fight with the best of them, yet she loves the smell of flowers and is delighted by butterflies (which she calls flutterflies). Molding this little urchin into a lady is a challenge, one she doesn't want and fights the entire way. I loved her spunk, she sees no problems with who she is, thank you very much, she believes in good yet knows there is truly evil out there. She distrusts Monks, the well to do and baths.
Turk is only nineteen years old but has reached the standing of spymaster and is pledged to the highest monk in the Shining Brotherhood. What a contradiction he is, he is a monk and a spy, he dresses in the best clothes, lives in a castle eats fine food and associates with gentry. Turk began his life on Malverne Isle as one of the trash kids, was taken in by the Primate of the Shining Brotherhood, lived and trained as a monk then set up as a spy for the Shining Brotherhood. With his shining golden hair, tall lithe body and good looks, no one suspects he is not what he seems, which makes him the best spy around. Turk is confused by his feelings for Melba, Melba is sure about her feelings for Turk and everyone else has an agenda of their own.
There are some great secondary characters, Gwinnie, Turk's housekeeper gives us more than one moment of laughter and make the perfect foil for Melba's street smarts. Vittorio, the Royal Victualler is a truly nasty piece of work, we know from the beginning that we aren't going to like him and we don't. Gregorio, the Primate of the Shining Brotherhood is completely dedicated to his calling and can be, at times, difficult to like. I'm still not sure if he is a good guy, a bad guy or just an old fashioned monk.
This is my first foray into steampunk, it's not that I don't or can't read it; it's just that I haven't. I'm not a huge fan of fantasy or sci-fi so I always shy away from any book that might lean that way, I'll admit that might have been a mistake. The steampunk and fantasy aspects of this book were not hard to follow and gave the story twists that made it more fun to read. The story is most definitely geared toward the young adult, no bad language, no explicit love scenes, no needless violence, just a good story. While this is a love story, that is not all there is to it, there are a few action scenes, a few comedy scenes, some light romance and some dark moments. The only thing that kept this from being five stars for me was the Prologue was a bit clunky and the ending sucked. I won't give any spoilers but anyone who has read any of my reviews probably can guess what it was. I would most definitely recommend this to anyone, young or old, who enjoys a good clean love story, a little steampunk, a little fantasy and a few pretty flutterflies floating over head.
Reviewed as a Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
on September 28, 2011
Melba is a perfect Cinderella-type character. Stolen as a child and hidden in poverty, she's been raised as a pick-pocket and told to pretend she's a boy. She's cunning yet innocent, pretty (though camouflaged with dirt), resilient, and completely unaware that she's a princess. She is easy to root for. Once her basic needs are taken care of and she's able to accept her femininity, her focus naturally turns to matters of the heart. She doesn't care about being Royal. People are what matter. She'd happily give up everything for love.
Master Turk is at once Spy Master and apprentice. He's handsome, resourceful, magically gifted and bright, but not always wise. Those he's most loyal to are not necessarily deserving of that loyalty. He's been raised to be obedient while breaking the law. He's a monk attracted to the thief he's charged with transforming into the Royal Princess. So, what does a monk do when he's falling in love? Why give up love for the greater good, of course. But what, exactly, is the greater good? And will that greater good keep Melba safe?
Vittorio, the Royal Victualler, lusts for power. Denied a father's love as a child, he can't seem to stop desperately seeking his father's recognition as an adult. The past has taught him the being good doesn't work, so now he embraces evil. There are moments when Vittorio seems almost human, but mostly he's been corrupted by the dark powers he tries to harness to achieve recognition, power and glory. However, the respect and adulation he strives for continues to remain just out of his grasp.
The world Helen Scott Taylor created is rich and fascinating. It's a world of Garbage Kings, the Shining Brotherhood, Foul Jinns, and clockwork creatures animated by apple spirits. I was drawn in almost immediately. Melba and Turk are engaging characters and Turk's conflict is compelling.
My only real complaint? The prologue is a bit of a spoiler. It makes the story too predictable and isn't necessary. I'd recommend reading it at the end or not at all.
Despite that, A Clockwork Fairytale is a sweet, fast, fun read perfect for the YA market. I'd give this book to my twelve-year-old daughter without hesitation, knowing she'd love it.
Originally posted at the Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
on September 16, 2011
Helen Scott-Taylor weaves suspense, magic, and emotion in a lovely fairytale with endearing characters. Melba is an intrepid down-to-earth urchin, who turns into a lovely young woman, and later into an inexperienced yet noble princess. Turk, the charming spymaster who can't resist her appeal, is trying to discover his past, assess his present and choose his future. The evil Royal Victualler, Vittorio, with his foul magic, the mysterious Gregorio, Shining Brotherhood's Primate, and the plain-spoken Gwinnie, are some of the colorful secondary characters that make the little world of Malvern Isle come alive. Taylor's inimitable style will have you smile, laugh, cry and bite your nails, as you turn the pages to reach the end of this unique story.
on December 14, 2011
Things I like about this book:
1. Relationship: This was essentially a Pygmalion effect, where Melba is the lost princess (kidnapped and placed in a poor man's employ at 3 years of age) when she is 17, then she then is found by Turk (spymaster for a brotherhood religious order) and he trains her to be presented for a reward to the king. This was a romance with fantasy elements... magic handling in the way of jinns or star spirits in things.
2. The POV: It was alternating 1st p POV between Melba and Turk. This was mainly their love story.
3. The world was moderately novel with their magic systems. Essentially they lived on an island with rings, like a medieval city... the outer ring held the poorest people and the inner circle was the king's castle.
4. The pace was good. Never anywhere too long.
Things I didn't like about the book.
1. The evil doer, her cousin, was somewhat boring and predictable.
2. The last forty percent was them getting kidnapped, tortured, and then escaping. Hit repeat three times. Yawn.
3. The gadgets were not very inspiring in their originality.
4. I don't like the Victorian description in the synopsis. This felt more like a ton era or even medieval fantasy. Since the steampunk elements were lacking, read this as a Romance Fantasy.
This book was entertaining at first, but then I felt it fell apart with the introduction of the evil doer cousin.
on October 10, 2011
Helen Scott-Taylor has woven an enchanting tale set in the fascinating world of Malvern Isle where Jinns, Earth spirits, drive metal, mechanical devices. It's Victorian steampunk fantasy, romance and a fairytale all in one.
With the skill that earned her the 2008 American Title IV Contest win, she's created a star cast of characters and a sweet romance. Melba, stolen as a child, raised as a pick-pocket, and told to pretend she's a boy. Smart, feisty, and attractive, she's unaware that she's really, truly a princess. Handsome, dark and charming Turk, who has secrets and misplaced loyalty. He's a monk enticed by the thief he's been assigned to transform into the Royal Princess she is. Raised to be obedient, dare he challenge Vittorio's evil magic to keep Melba safe? The supporting cast brings the story to life -- Dante the Trash King, the Shining Brotherhood, Foul Jinns, and clockwork creatures animated by apple spirits. A fun read for old and young alike.
And, the best part--it appears to be the start of a new series. I can't wait for the next book set in this world.
on August 19, 2012
A Clockwork Fairytale is a very engaging book. I was transported to another world of Jinns, Earth Magic, doodads and spymasters that Ms. Scott-Taylor made very real in my imagination. I could almost smell the trash barges in the realm of Dante, the Trash King. I fell in love with Master Turk, a noble hero struggling to hold fast to his beliefs and pledges even when events in the story conspire to undermine them. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a sweet romance set in a fascinating fantasy world.
on October 6, 2011
A Clockwork Fairytale was an amazing read. Helen Taylor Scott creates a wonderful, imaginative world, with memorable characters and a sweet romance. I loved this story! One warning though: This book didn't wrap up the story, so be prepared that it continues in another book or books.
I can't wait for the next book and hope the author writes many more stories set in this world!
on August 28, 2012
I don't remember how I stumbled upon "A Clockwork Fairytale", but let me just say that I'm happy I did. As it was, I knew nothing about the author and what made me seriously interested in the first place was the price. Being a bit short on cash, I like to stay below 10$ as far as books are concerned, and this one was a real bargain. So I read the sample and there was nothing I could do: I was hooked. I got the book sent to my Kindle and read it in three days. Basically, I was carrying it everywhere, reading while walking and so on.
Alright, so the book is fast-paced, anything else? Well, it's also remarkably original AND wildly romantic without being cheap or sappy, AND it's packed with fascinating characters.
The originality : the jinns. When I first read "The Bartimaeus Trilogy" by Jonathan Stroud, I was intrigued by Stroud's portrayal of "the jinni" and wasn't able to find a single DECENT fantasy book featuring them. "A Clockwork Fairytale" did the job magnificently, and brought them to life in a startingly original way (as some sorts of "stars" which can be found within pretty much anything, from flowers to jewels).
The wild romance : Melba is disguised as a boy and aspires to becoming a spy, Turk is a spymaster but also a monk. (Religion is another original aspect of the novel, for it centres around the jinns rather than anthropomorphic gods). The two meet when Turk saves Melba from bluejackets who are about to drag her to their ship. Melba recognizes him instantly and begs him to pledge her. He agrees, but that is before he finds out that she's the abducted princess Melbaline...
Under his gentle care, Melba blossoms into a beautiful girl and a bond develops between her and Turk. As far as Melba is concerned, nothing seems easier than marrying Turk and presenting him to her royal father as her husband. What about Turk? Will he abandon his monk's life for her after he realises he has feelings for her? Will he even have a say in the matter? Someone else is interested in Melba, someone who does horrible experiments with jinns in a secret laboratory in the castle, and that someone might turn out quite powerful and determined to achieve their ends...
The fascinating characters : the above-mentioned someone, The Royal Victualler Vittorio, is a perfect villain. He is as throroughly evil and despicable as Dolores Umbridge in "Harry Potter", and yet there is a reason behind it and we readers get to know it. That knowledge makes the whole experience more profound - we KNOW Vittorio is evil because of certain family circumstances that had left their marks on him. Even though we are led to hate him (or at least I did!) because of what he does, there is still a tiny flicker of hope that he might not be quite beyond redemption yet...
And then there is Dante The Trash King, one of the most memorable characters ever.
What I didn't know before buying the book is that it is the beginning of a series. The ending is not a COMPLETE cliffhanger and yet it leaves you wanting to know what happens next. Personally, I found myself genuinely caring about the characters and I look forward to spending more time with them when the second book is out! Definitely a time well spent.