27 Days to Midnight
By: Kristine Kruppa
Publisher: Giant Squid Books
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Everyone in Dahlia’s world knows when they’re going to die. Except her.
Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father died to protect…and the time research that could bring him back to life.
Then she meets Farren Reed. She should hate him. He’s an enemy soldier, a cowardly deserter, and the most insufferable man Dahlia’s ever met. Still, she needs all the help she can get, and Farren is the only chance she has to find the man who murdered her father. But Farren has only twenty-seven days left on his watch.
In that time, Dahlia must recover her father’s time research, foil a psychotic general’s plot, and learn to survive in a world that will never be the same. But the research holds secrets more dangerous than she had ever imagined. She will have to choose what is most important: revenge, Farren’s life, or her own. And time is running out.
27 Days to Midnight gave a refreshing and unique twist to a genre that has been, or at least feels as if it has, trodden into the ground. Steampunk novels seem to fall under very well done or absolutely horrid and lack an in-between to me. Kristine has formed a whole new world that is as extensive as it is unique. The world of 27 Days to Midnight has influences from Europe to India and the aspect of having one’s life tied to a watch.
No steampunk world is complete without a host of gears and cyborgs, and Dahlia’s world has both. And in a way, every person who inhabits this world is a cyborg. While they may not have a physical disability that must be compensated with gears and clockwork, their life force is most certainly tied to and run by gears. This directly relates to what I felt was most lacking in the book. I wanted to learn more about the connection between the person and their watch, beyond the transfer of time and what it means for one’s lifespan when time is so tangible. I would have also appreciated some background about how this connection between people and watches started and the methods with which a new born is tied to his or her watch.
As for the characters, I adored Dahlia and how she grew from a naive girl into a strong woman who would fight for her chance at revenge, to protect herself and those she loved. As for Ferren, he was harder to like, with his constant drinking and whining about his death date. However, he grows on the reader, and by the end of the book he can be seen as more of a romantic than an enemy Dahlia bargains into working for her. As for the villain, Sebastian was a convincing mix of downright menacing and batshit crazy. His twisted sense of loyalty and devotion to Sita is what drives him and is, in part, convincingly understandable.
In 27 Days to Midnight, Kristine has delivered a world that is refreshingly unique, with a fantastic cast of main and supporting characters woven into a plot that demands a sequel. I can only hope that we get one, as I want to know so much more about Dahlia, Ferren, what they get up to, and the mechanics of their world.
1) If you emptied out your purse, wallet, desk drawer, pockets, backpack, beach bag, saddle bag, or fanny pack, what would we find?
A notebook from New York City, a coin purse from Laos, a keychain from Peru, and a scattering of pens that always seem to disappear just when inspiration strikes. Plus the usual half ton of loose change seasoned with a healthy pinch of cat hair.
2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?
Like many writers, my process lies somewhere in between. I plot out the beginning and end of the story in detail, but the middle I leave open apart from a few key scenes. That way, I give the characters more control over their own stories. The scenes are constantly evolving as I discover their personalities, their goals and fears and backstories. It allows me to focus on the characters rather than trying to force them into a plot that doesn’t fit them.
3) Describe your book in 5 words or less:
Time can change. Should it?
4) What are some fun facts you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?
I originally intended for the antagonist, Sebastian, to be a noble but misguided general who was only following orders. Dahlia’s real enemy was meant to be Sebastian’s superior, King Alexander Bespalov. But as soon as I started writing Sebastian, things went in a completely different direction!
Farren was once attacked by a Delmarean combat dog. He knew how to fight the one he and Dahlia encounter in Lawson’s Ridge because he’d battled one like it before. This fact was meant to lead into a more detailed exploration of his time with the military, but the entire sequence was dropped in a very early draft because it didn’t contribute to his character arc. The only remaining part is the fight with the combat dog.
Harold Grimes, the criminal that Dahlia and Farren help catch, started off as a more important character. He had been framed for a murder, and when Dahlia and her team found out he was innocent, they helped him travel to Port Argun to proclaim his innocence. I dropped his subplot early on because it didn’t add much to Dahlia’s story. In the final version of the book, he’s a simple criminal.
5) Do you have a special story behind your inspiration for the book?
The summer after my first year of college, I went to visit a friend in downtown Detroit. She loved historic buildings, so we spent a few hours exploring the ones in the area before ending up inside an old clock tower. Each of the four sides of the tower had an enormous clock face with hands taller than me. When the minute changed, the hands all advanced with an echoing tick I could almost feel. It was incredible. Like standing inside time itself. The experience stuck in my head, grew into a story idea, and, a few years later, 27 Days to Midnight was born.
6) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?
Sebastian was undoubtedly my favorite to write! I love antagonists with realistic motivations; characters who aren’t ‘bad’ simply because the protagonist needs someone to oppose. Sebastian doesn’t strive for power, money, or greed like so many baddies. He’s after something I think everyone, including Dahlia, can understand.
Dahlia, the main character, actually gave me the most difficulty. There were so many parts of her character that I needed to explore: her love for her father, her longing to learn about her mother and her past, her confusion about her own ethnicity, her curiosity about her watch, her struggle to survive in a world unlike anything she’s ever known, and her relationship with Farren. But I think all these things make her a more realistic character, even if they made her difficult to write!
7) What is your number one writing tip?
Don’t try to write for publication or for a specific audience. Write for yourself. Create the story you want to read, and make it as good as you can. If it ends up published, congratulations! If it doesn’t, you’ve still achieved something incredible.
Kristine Kruppa is a mechanical engineer, writer, and world traveler. Her days are spent designing cool new car parts, but her evenings are filled with writing and cats. She has traveled solo to seventeen countries on five continents. Her other hobbies include hunting for the perfect cup of coffee, exploring used book stores, and accidentally climbing mountains. To keep up with her adventures, follow Kristine on Twitter @kskruppa.
If you like what you read above, please follow using one (or more) of the social media sites in the sidebar!
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author picture, information, giveaway, and more were provided by CBB Book Promotions. A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.