Jennifer Cierra – Beyond Clockwork


Author: Jennifer Cierra
Reviewed by: Lucy
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Genre: M/M Fantasy
ISBN 13:

Rating: ★★★★½ 


Summary:  Pinocchio never had to deal with rusty gears. He probably never had to deal with broken hearts, either.

In the city of the Young Queens, magic abounds alongside mechanics. Terrin Shore, the Clockmaker of the southern slums, likes to consider himself a master craftsman, but he can’t deny that his dolls are endowed with a certain veracity. He stopped making wind-up toys years ago, yet his dolls still move, speaking and interacting with such grace and humanity that he is tempted to forget they’re false. He makes a living from his skills, selling dolls to aristocrats and nobles with gold to spare.

Ian is Terrin’s most lifelike doll. Crafted in such detail that he can pass for human at a casual glance, he was made in the image of Terrin’s closest friend, master thief Christiansen Townsend. Ian, however, is not Christiansen. He has a personality and attitude of his own, along with a rebellious streak. Despite his artificiality, he is head over heels in love with Terrin. Still, he knows how unlikely it is a doll-maker will fall in love with a doll.

When Christiansen is injured while fleeing from the city’s peacekeeping officers, Ian has a choice to make. Does he stand back and let Christiansen be submitted to the Young Queens’ justice, where the thief will likely be executed? Or will he sacrifice himself for Terrin’s and Christiansen’s happily ever after? And is that even what Terrin really wants 


Review: Oh my goodness,  how to even classify this book?   Terrin is the Clockmaker – a dollmaker so talented that his dolls act “fake” in the presence of humans sometimes so as not to draw attention.  His best creation is Ian, who has been Terrin’s assistant for three years and in love with him for nearly that long.  The fact that he has the face of Terrin’s best friend, Christansen, does not go unnoticed by Ian and it is a source of heartbreak.  Wait, he has no heart, how can it break?   Sadly for Ian, it can.  When Christian comes to visit, Ian is banished from the tower and not allowed to set foot near the men. 

Since Ian couldn’t “follow a plan if it was tattooed on his eyelids” of course he ends up breaking Terrin’s banishment and is seen by Christian.  Anger and shock ensue on the part of Christian and as a result Terrin refuses to speak to Ian.  Since the story is told from the point of view of Ian, what we get is his pain and feelings.  Ian had interrupted for something he believed to be important but that doesn’t matter now. 

Terrin is not the kindly dollmaker ala Ghepetto.  Oh no.  He was an orphan living in the dump of the slums, where the most dangerous predators are the children.  H escaped this by creating monster “dolls” called Destroyers who basically attacked the Queens (very young girls turned to witches – as a result they remain forever very young in body (6, 13, 4) but their malevolence is old.   

When Christian, a sort of freedom fighter, returns to Terrin very hurt by a bullet, he is treated (in a fashion) by Terrin.  Ian witnesses the terror on Terrin’s face when he thinks he is losing his friend and it brings home to Ian how futile it is to love this man but what choice does he have?  As Christian recovers, Ian gets to know a little more about his creator.   And I loved when Ian puts Christian in his place.  

There is a plot afoot regarding the Queen and a rich man named Dawnbringer who purchases a doll even more lifelike than Ian (and for Ian to feel creeped out by how real she is, well that’s saying something).  They don’t know why and really they don’t care.  Until it comes home to them.  When Ian sacrifices himself to save Christian so that Terrin will be happy, Terrin is PISSED!  What to do about it though?  

I loved this story and the world it is set in.  Ian, he’s a doll and he’s real and he’s what Pinocchio would hope to be when he grows up.  Terrin has to own up to things and it’s difficult for him, but he does it.  His plan to save Ian shows you should never mess with the dollmaker.  Terrin looks at himself as a Master Craftsman but he’s more than that.  His talents are magical.  It’s what makes his dolls real.  Ms Cierra made the world come to life, as well.  

Ian’s creator’s last creation for him?  Awesome.


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