Twenty-six-year-old Margot sets out on a journey of self-discovery – she dumps her New York boyfriend, quits her Chicago job, and crashes at her friend’s flat in London.
Rather than find herself, though, she only feels more lost. An unsettling energy affects her from the moment she enters the old Victorian residence, and she spirals into depression. Frightened and questioning her perceptions, she gradually suspects her dark emotions belong to Charlotte instead.
Who is Charlotte? The name on a local gravestone could relate to Margot’s dreams and the grey woman weeping at the window.
Finding a ghost isn’t what she had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow Margot’s future may depend on Charlotte’s past.
Woven between 21st century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity.
I’m a bit sheepish to admit that it has been a year since I posted a review on Bookish Temptations. Last spring, I made the decision to put my review posts on hiatus so that I could focus on writing a novel of my own. Although I’ve been low on the Bookish radar during the past twelve months, it certainly isn’t because there are a shortage of excellent books out there.
Reading continues to be an important and enjoyable part of my daily life. A good story can sweep me away from the constant stresses of my full-time career and the hectic pace inherent with raising two children. Reading can even help me forget the pressures I experience working on my first contemporary romance series. An author we all know well is fond of saying, “Take time for beauty.” And I often choose reading for this exact reason.
You might be wondering what has prompted my return now. Truthfully, it was a fortuitous combination of factors. I was enjoying some downtime between editing assignments when I received an email from Rumer Haven. She let me know she was publishing her second novel, What the Clocks Know, and offered to let me read the ARC. Being a big fan of her debut novel – Seven For a Secret – I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.
Similar to Rumer’s debut novel, What the Clocks Know features two time periods. In this book, the reader is submerged into both the 19th Century and the present day. Moving back and forth between contemporary times and the distant past can be a tricky task for an author, but this is one of Rumer’s real strengths. She is able to provide a distinctive voice to each era, allowing the characters to act and react appropriately to the circumstances of the world in which they reside.
Just in case you find the prospect of immersing yourself in 19th Century Victorian London a daunting prospect, let me offer a reassurance. Although the setting and characters of this time play an important role in the novel, the majority of the story takes place in modern day London.
The novel primarily follows a young American woman named Margot as she navigates through that time of life referred to as the quarter-life crisis. Margot is experiencing a severe bout of restlessness, frustrated by a lack of direction and commitment in both her career and her relationship with her long-distance boyfriend.
Eager to make a fresh start, she ends her romance and seizes the opportunity to study in London. She moves in with Rand, a Brit and former work colleague of hers from Chicago. The chemistry between the two flatmates is evident from the moment he picks her up at the airport.
Margot dropped her eyes and bit her lip with a nervous giggle as she gripped her suitcase handle tighter. Her steps faltered, but on locking eyes on Rand’s again, she felt a chord in her stomach pull her toward him as fast as those suitcase wheels would roll.
“Greetings and salutations, miss,” he said with a graceful bow. Rand had always been a gentleman. With no prompting, he’d stated his plans to meet Margot at Heathrow as though a matter of course and not the generous, out-of-the-way favor it really was.
Her nerves melted away at his familiar lean frame and dancing eyes. He’d always had that good humored magnetism about him, yet he was even more handsome than she remembered. His full, wavy chestnut hair had grown out, and he looked dashing in a well-tailored purple dress shirt and the striped multicolor socks that peeked from beneath his fitted trouser legs – a look few corn-fed Chicago dudes could pull off. And there was no contest against his smile. It wasn’t the bleached white and capped American grin of false promises, but a slightly tea-stained and asymmetrical one that seemed to earnestly believe in keeping calm and carrying on.
Once she set her bags down, Margot beamed at him with arms outspread. “It’s been so long! I could hug the dickens out of ya!”
“The Charles Dickens, mind. You’re in London now, Yankee.” He grinned. “And you damn well shall hug me.”
Margot could have stood in the welcome comfort of his arms for ages, feeling silly for her nerves just moments ago, but she made herself break away.
As the days and weeks go by, Rand and Margot enjoy a growing fondness for one another but it’s not completely carefree. Rand already has a girlfriend named Gwen and Margot finds herself surrounded by strange occurrences and coincidences from the moment she arrives at Rand’s flat. Puzzled and perhaps a bit unnerved by her discoveries in London, she quickly finds herself distracted from her studies and slides into a state of depression.
Her erratic behavior catches the attention of Rand, whose sensitivities to her mental state are enhanced by his own experiences with tragedy. The two struggle to maintain their growing friendship, but what is evident throughout the story is the genuine tenderness and concern between Margot and Rand.
As the story deepens and the reader experiences more flashbacks to 19th Century London, parallels between the two eras emerge and a larger mystery begins to form. The more Margot tries to make sense of what is happening to her, the more she feels her grip on reality loosen. Even so, she finds support and comfort from those she chooses to bring into her confidence. Although she often feels alone in her situation and her friends may not comprehend what she is going through, they (and Rand in particular) do their best to help Margot through her troubles.
What the Clocks Know is a paranormal story well told. I found it to be intelligent, suspenseful and just the right amount of sexy. There are plenty of surprise twists and turns with the plot from beginning to end, and I’m always pleased when an author can craft a story that keeps me guessing all the way through.
In contrast to Seven for a Secret, this novel is a darker tale with a slower burn, but nevertheless it made for an excellent read. I am more than happy to recommend What the Clocks Know to fans of the paranormal genre.
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