The Clockmaker by Ceri Williams and Drew Neary


A lot of my recent reviews have been by Indie Authors like myself. There are hundreds of writing and reading groups around, and it’s great to support other authors. It’s a competitive world out there for struggling writers. From my perspective, it’s good because it’s forced me out of my niche. If you cut me open, you would find Psychological Thrillers written in my core like a stick of Blackpool Rock. Of late, I am reading all kinds of other genres.

This is one such book. It’s a collaboration, and that always interests me. The final edit was clearly done by both partners because the writing is seamless. Sometimes, you can identify which author wrote specific parts and work out where their expertise lies. The clockmaker reads as though it was written by a single author.

This is a horror story set in the Highlands of post-war Scotland. It has a beautiful subplot running through it. It is well written and well-edited. Yes, yes, I’m going to say it because I always do. The writing could be less passive in places, but that’s down to the author style, and the book is fabulous.

The Woman has lost her husband in the war. She and her young son have inherited a wonderful old house in the Highlands. They are travelling by train with a single suitcase to take residence. No spoilers—God, no—but they meet an old man who offers the boy that joy so scarce during that era. He gave him chocolate.

The same man appears at their door that night. He thinks it’s a functioning hotel. Our heroine can’t leave him out I the cold all night, so she takes him in. The old man is the Loch House’s first paying guest. The atmosphere is sinister, the writing stunning, and the gore is beautiful. A remote village in the middle of nowhere. What could go wrong?

The story is excellent and clips along, but for me, the joy of this book was reading as the dusty old house came to life. Left to them via the husband by his elderly mother, the house is left as was—it has lain empty for a long time. Annette, our heroine, aims to bring it back to its former glory and turn it into a comfortable guest house.

I loved reading about the old house, the servant’s quarters, the bells in the kitchen, and the pantry, still stocked with conserves. Every removed dust sheet unearths another treasure.

It’s my kinda story. The writing is delicate, sensitive and poignant, turning to brutal, hard and no-punch-pulling. We like the child, Duncan, who forms a fast friendship with the old man. And we rally with Annette as she finds her way in her new life, getting to grips with a mixed bunch of motely locals.

The description of time, place and location is sublime. The authors take you walking in the beautiful purple-heathered highlands of Bonnie Scotland, and where would we be without a loch—not Scotland. Annette has one a minute away from the beautiful old house.

This book sits well with the mainstream authors and can hold its head high. A stunning story, with scenery to equal it. Magnificent descriptive escapism. 8 out of ten and highly recommended.