SPFBO Review: The Red Hourglass by Ashley Capes

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There’s a lot going on in this book that’s only slowly revealed as the story goes on. The plot starts out with Thomas and his blind sister Mia on the run from the evil King William’s right-hand woman, who is chasing them across a desert with a sandhog, reminding me of one of the Mad Max movies.

As escaped slaves marked with the yellow hourglass, they are somewhat important and the king would want them back. But the king is going through a lot of effort to recapture them, more than would make sense.

Maybe it has something to do with the magic powers both Mia and Thomas start displaying.

The main duo are both interesting characters. Mia can see glimpses of the future and call upon the magic of a glowing bird, and Thomas has a limited form of super strength he can only use on steel. Neither is in full control of their abilities and they learn more about them as the plot progresses.

Red Hourglass has a rich world, full of steampunk machines in a dystopian far-future Earth. Airships, mysterious magic, Gatling guns, and a giant Iron Man suit all play an important role. The references to the “ancient civilization” that came before were a bit on the nose, but still good fun. I would have preferred to learn a bit more about the various cultures alluded to in the book, but the “cool” factor was there in plenty.

Thomas and Mia are driven by their pursuit of freedom. After living their entire lives in slavery, they would rather die than serve King William again. I enjoyed their journey, though I would have preferred if things were a bit more challenging for them. Much of the plot was driven by the actions of secondary characters, with the brother/sister duo responding to the fallout. And, on one occasion, they conveniently find a compass pointing them exactly where they need to go.

Overall, though, the story was adventurous and fast-paced, and I read the thing in just under a couple days. At just under 200 pages, it’s a quick read.

SPFBO Rating: 6.0

Character (25 points) 17
Worldbuilding (20 points) 12.5
Plot (15 points) 9
Pacing (10 points) 5.5
Prose (5 points) 2
Dialogue (5 points) 3
Editing (5 points) 1.5
Presentation (5 points) 3.5
Commas -1
Personal Enjoyment (10 points) 4.5
Total Score 57.5 (3 stars)


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