Skip to content

The Clockwork Dagger – Beth Cato [Review] steampunk, fantasy

The Clockwork Dagger – Beth Cato [Review] steampunk, fantasyAuthor: Beth Cato
Title: The Clockwork Dagger
Series: Clockwork Dagger #1
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 360
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Genres: Steampunk

Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.
Format: Paperback
AmazonAdd to Goodreads

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*

THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER is the first book in the Clockwork Dagger series by Beth Cato.

Brief Summary of the Plot

Octavia is travelling from school to take a job as a medician. She is able to heal others through herbs and prayer. Her power stems from “The Lady,” a woman who was once alive and, in death, was granted healing powers.

Octavia is attacked and must figure out who wants her dead and why. She is aided by a couple passengers on the airship, one of whom, a steward, becomes a romantic interest. Another important character is her bunk-mate, Mrs. Stout, who also suffers an attack after she switches bunks with Octavia.

My Thoughts about…


Octavia is a character I found difficult to relate to because of her blind faith. She is naive in many ways and overly reliant on “The Lady.” Because Octavia is claimed to be more powerful than any other medician, I would have liked for her to have been able to do more without having to beg the lady for help.

Also, Octavia doesn’t seem to learn anything from her experiences. In the first stage of her journey before she boards the airship, she is taught a hard lesson, but she doesn’t reflect on it or change her way of thinking at all.

The other characters were not that remarkable. I didn’t care about what happened to any of them. Perhaps this is because everyone has a hidden agenda. No one is who they seem to be. That sounds like the making of a good story, but in this case it didn’t help because their secrets were too easy to figure out. Another problem is that their behavior and mannerisms seemed inconsistent with their skills and statuses, even after Octavia learns their true identities.


The story did move along at a quick pace. Although there is a little romance, the story contains a lot of action, which kept me turning the pages.

Suspense & Mystery

I believe the author tried to build suspense and create a mystery around who wanted to harm Octavia. For the most part, though, I thought the book was too predictable. The character’s motives depended too much on Octavia’s supposed awesomeness.

Worldbuilding & Setting Details

The author excelled at creating an interesting and unique world. The descriptions came alive. I could easily visualize all the settings. I thought she did a good job with the world politics and culture.

The only area that fell flat for me was the development of the religions. I didn’t understand who bestowed the healing power to The Lady and put her spirit in the tree.  The author refers to “God,” but never explaind if this is the Christian god or some other deity. I felt at times that the author was being deliberately vague about the religion.


The author’s writing style was enjoyable. The Clockwork Dagger was easy to read and understand. I never had to read a sentence more than once. Beth Cato was descriptive without being overly wordy.

Plotting & Consistency

All the elements in the story fit together nicely. I didn’t find any inconsistencies or plot holes. As a whole, the book felt well planned and edited.

Hooked or Not?

As a whole, I did enjoy reading The Clockwork Dagger. The characters fell flat for me, but I liked the atmospheric settings, the unique uses of magic, and the political corruption within Octavia’s world.

I will be reading more books in this series. I hope Octavia begins to grow as a character. She needs a healthy does of cynicism–just enough so people won’t take advantage of her. I believe this will help her be less perfect and more human-like. Octavia shows potential when she stands up for other people and creatures. She just needs to stand up for herself a bit more.

I give The Clockwork Dagger four stars (a B). If you haven’t read it yet, I would recommend giving it a try. You might like Octavia’s dedication to her faith, her willingness to forgive without question, and her bravery when it is needed to help someone who is in need.

The Clockwork Dagger series Reading Order:

#.5 The Deepest Poison

#1 The Clockwork Dagger

#2 The Clockwork Crown

#2.5 Song of Sorrow and Bone

#2.6 Final Flight



Jen Schaper
I am a mom of three kids, a wife, and a wannabe author. For Books That Hook, I review books, create features and discussions, design the website, and do all the administrative stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: