Thomas Escott was used to being alone. Having been raised on the streets where his talents led him to creating clever mechanical toys from the iron scraps he came across, Thomas finally had something of his own. Not much more than a lowly shop front, still his toyshop was his and no one else’s until one fateful night when an explosion in the shop causes such damage that he loses his right hand. Now without the means to create his toys, Thomas is left destitute and his only hope is to throw himself on the mercy of a master prosthetics inventor, Jethro Hastings.
But Jethro redefines the word recluse, and only by making a deal to help with his impending big event where inventors from all over the country will be shown Jethro’s amazing invention does Thomas hope to receive one of his incredible prosthetic hands in return. With it, Thomas can once again go back to the toy making he so enjoys. But strange things are going on in Jethro’s lab. A deal has been struck that could mean the end of more than one life and it is up to Thomas to decide whether he can help Jethro achieve his moment of glory that may very well enable his death.
This dark mystery set in the steampunk genre comes from one of my favorite series, Deal with a Devil, created by author Cornelia Grey. Each of the stories can be read as a standalone and this one is no different. While the other two had a sense of urgency and malevolent darkness to them, this one began much the same. However, I kept waiting for this story to evolve—for Jethro to be revealed to me and his personality to grow and change as Thomas lived and worked beside him. Unfortunately, the story remained rather one-dimensional with Thomas making horrifying discoveries but never really feeling their impact. There were moments of disgust and fear on Thomas’ part, but there was next to no interaction between Jethro and Thomas that would indicate a growing relationship that could somehow help Jethro to see the destructive path he was on. In face, the final moments of the novel were much diffused and limped along—as if the story itself was tired of the long winded passages where Thomas reflected on his life and Jethro’s actions.
This author is an excellent storyteller—her past works were exciting and inventive. She creates characters who leap off the page and brilliantly ignite the imagination. The Empty Hourglass was simply not her finest work. While Thomas was a sympathetic figure, the story was uneven and lackluster. I could not see any emotional connection between Jethro and Thomas and that led to the story being less than credible. All in all, The Empty Hourglass needed more intimacy—more relationship building to make it believable.