Various figures from shadowy agencies make an appearance, too. You know the sort: those people who can make people disappear, cover up situations, appease the police. And then there's Shem Shem Tsien, one of the creepiest villains you'll encounter: "handsome devil" is a pretty apt description.
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Joe Spork just wants to keep his head down and run his shop. He repairs things, works on clocks and other mechanical devices, and pays his taxes. But then, thanks to an under-the-table side job proposed by the unscrupulous Billy Friend, he finds himself caught up in events outside of his control.
Colorful characters show up at his doorstep, searching for things he no longer has, asking questions he cannot answer, and Joe is drafted into a war in which he has no idea who the "good guys" are. There's a s doomsday device, an order of black-shrouded monks with unknown designs, and something about clockwork bees. Throughout the book, Joe is pulled back and forth between his father and grandfather, wanting to do the "right" thing but discovering that the world no rewards him for following the rules.
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Meanwhile, Edie's portion of the story jumps back and forth between the present day and the past, playing out her secret origins and history with Shem Shem Tsien. The various threads of the story interweave to form a complete picture, but you'll follow the separate strands of the story for a while before they come together. Angelmaker will certainly make it on my short list of best adult fiction for the year which, perhaps, would be more convincing if I read more adult fiction, but it is an impressive book regardless.
At nearly pages, it's hefty and densely packed, so it took me a while to read — this is not the sort of book I zip through, despite wanting to know what happens next. It's the sort of book you want to let steep in your brain a bit before you take another taste. Really I'd suggest reading it after the book, because letting the character of Edie slowly unfold in the book is such fun, but the short story gives you a taste of Harkaway's writing and could be used as an appetizer while you wait for the book's release.
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Also included in the ebook is an excerpt of Angelmaker, so I suppose that works. And on the Amazon page you can read the first page of the story for free. I've now moved Harkaway's first novel, The Gone-Away World , several spaces up my reading list, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next. All our estimates are based on business days and assume that shipping and delivery don't occur on holidays and weekends.
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