Category Archives: Steampunk

The Empty Hourglass – Deal With A Devil, by Cornelia Grey


Rating: 4.0 stars


Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over – until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away – Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.


When I first read the blurb for The Empty Hourglass I just knew I had to read this and review it.
The whole deal with the devil thing is highly fascinating to me and pulled me in, the steampunk genre and the automaton certainly didn’t hurt and I thought I deserved a nice change of pace. Boy, did this book deliver it! A thoroughly pleasant read all told.


Thomas Escott:

He was painfully aware of his too-light, too-modern clothes that moderately smelled like smoke, despite his best attempts to get the stench out of them, and of the blond hair that he kept long, as was popular in the capital at the moment. But mostly, he could fell their gazes almost piercing the right side of his head, where the hair had been scorched off in the fire and was now replaced by tender, gnarled skin, thin scars running from his mangled ear to his cheek and spreading down his neck before disappearing under his collar.
At least they couldn’t see his arm…

Jethro Hastings:

He was young, probably just a few years older than Thomas. For all his ragged appearance, with those untidy clothes and messy black hair, he was a handsome man, tall and slender with olive skin and green eyes shimmering behind his glasses. If that was Hastings… well, he was a far cry from the old man Thomas had been expecting.


What a great story, pure steampunk fantastical storytelling at its best.

Thomas, the handsome young man from the capital, searching for salvation from his unfortunate, unexpected and unexplainable calamity and a fortuitous, anonymous tip off as to where he may find his salvation.

The scientist, wanting to atone and help others, pining for his lost first love, creating a living testament to him and a legacy that wouldn’t be duplicated – true immortality, whilst fulfilling his pact with the devil.

A love story of a little girl and a devil who sees a way out of an intractable difficulty – if only he can nudge things his way, and then the culminating, cataclysmic grand finale. Sort of.


Funny how you can tell when a good writer comes together with good editor and wonderful beta/proof reading. This makes the world of difference in a smooth, enjoyable read such as this one. Ms. Grey does a phenomenal job of intertwining the fantastic steampunk experience with a smooth developing story, bringing in vibrant ancillary characters that add a vibrancy and depth to the story that I wish some others had. Yes, storytelling at its finest, and this book delivers it.
I was mesmerized by the story: Thomas, Jethro, the devil, the other inventor, Dragana, and Mina. Mina, what a great character that ties it all in together. Yes, the writing is truly magical.
I won’t give you any spoilers, just suffice it to say that you need to set some quality time for a great read. You’ll need time for it because you won’t want to put this one down.


I would like to thank Cornelia Grey and Anglerfish Press, an imprint of Riptide Publishing, for supplying me with a copy of The Empty Hourglass in exchange for my honest review.


Cornelia Grey is a creative writing PhD student, with a penchant for steampunk and classic rock. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia has since lived and worked in London, Japan, Spain, and Germany. She also works as a freelance translator.

She likes cars, knitting, performing in theater, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.

The Empty Hourglass, Copyright 2016 by Cornelia Grey
Cover Art: Jay Aheer
Editor: Danielle Polesz
Layout: L.C. Chase
ISBN: 978-62649-393-3