This is really two pairs of connected steampunk stories. The first two center around Jacques Charlay and his store, A Ticking Clockwork. The second two deal with steampunk nuns and monks on a quest.
The stories are fast-paced and full of the gadgetry one expects in the genre. The first pair, where steam and mechanics interact with time is a fascinating tour. Don’t think too deeply just let the fantastical sweep over you. The best part is the description of how Mr. Charlay’s workshop is really, for lack of better terms, a clock that is so efficient it saves time.
Our narrator is an engineer who has the wonderment of a student discovering new things to build on what he already knows. You feel, along with him, those exciting moments of, “Really? I never knew that!”
The second pair is a unique twist on a crime story. There are gadgets, of course, from the TOD (Tesla Oscillator Device) to the Keeper’s Urn, and many others, small and large. The unique twist is that the crime is stealing an old-fashioned scroll and the people tasked with its retrieval are a bunch of classical monks, robes and all, and four nuns who are a bit more classical steam-punk.
These two tales seem a bit more rushed; a bit less polished than the first pair. However the story moves along at a fast clip and is full of ingenious magic (touched with belief) and plenty of gadgets! There is the sharp edge of creativity but the characters do not take the time to develop.
If you like steam punk with a twist, especially time-bending steampunk, these stories are recommended!
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)