The Empty Hourglass (Deal With a Devil)

Author: Cornelia Grey

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 3 stars

Buy Links: Riptide & Amazon

Type: Novel in a Series

Received from Publisher


Blurb:  Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.


Review:  I have not read any of the previous books based in this world. I got the feeling I was probably missing some of the nuances of that world from other books but I never felt lost. While I thought this story started off pretty interesting the end just kind of petered off leaving me somewhat underwhelmed. There was a happy ending.

Thomas loses his hand and his shop in a fire. He’ had worked his entire life to get that shop so he essentially lost everything that night. He gets a letter suggesting he visit an amazingly talented man who is doing wonders with mechanical prosthetics. This gives Thomas the hope he could still make toys. So he sets off to a strange town with all the money he has to talk Jethro Hastings into making him one of his inventions. A new hand.

I enjoyed this story. Seeing the wonder Jethro and his house bring through Thomas’s eyes kept me intrigued for most of the book. Little girl ghosts and demons were just some of the interesting characters we meet. Most townspeople seemed pretty hostile but I guess that’s understandable considering how physically different they appear after Jethro’s prosthetics. They certainly eye dropping. He’s built things for the people in need like mechanical eyes, lungs, arms and even ears. I found all of this very interesting. It has a medical steam punk vibe. Jethro’s behavior and things Thomas learns about him along the way kept me wondering what truths about him would be revealed. Doubts about his character are strongly hinted at but the again he’s done so much good. Thomas puts all of his hope into getting a new hand. He basically ignores any concerns over any problems that might come with that hand. He just knows he needs it. Tunnel vision gets him into trouble.

The romance here is pretty tame. It’s also very convenient and sudden. Thomas has some naughty thoughts about Jethro and there’s some subtle flirting but that’s about it. I wasn’t too invested with the MCs as a couple. They were both lonely creative men who found something together which was nice. I liked the story. There was some really good world building. The story is told through the POV of Thomas only. I felt like I knew him well but didn’t get a good feel for Jethro. The ending was kind of obvious and tied up neatly. I wasn’t a huge fan of the preachy demon so maybe I won’t be checking out more from this series . I liked the story and writing enough to check out another book by this author. This one was good but nothing I’d necessarily recommend.


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