BN.com Gift Guide

The Nine Pound Hammer (The Clockwork Dark Series #1)

( 20 )

Overview

What if John Henry had a son?

Twelve-year-old Ray is haunted by the strangest memories of his father, whom Ray swears could speak to animals. Now an orphan, Ray jumps from a train going through the American South and falls in with a medicine show train and its stable of sideshow performers. The performers turn out to be heroes, defenders of the wild, including the son of John Henry. They are hiding the last of the mythical Swamp Sirens from an ancient evil known as the Gog. Why ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (19) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $3.66   
  • Used (10) from $1.99   
The Nine Pound Hammer (The Clockwork Dark Series #1)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.

Overview

What if John Henry had a son?

Twelve-year-old Ray is haunted by the strangest memories of his father, whom Ray swears could speak to animals. Now an orphan, Ray jumps from a train going through the American South and falls in with a medicine show train and its stable of sideshow performers. The performers turn out to be heroes, defenders of the wild, including the son of John Henry. They are hiding the last of the mythical Swamp Sirens from an ancient evil known as the Gog. Why the Gog wants the Siren, they can’t be sure, but they know it has something to do with rebuilding a monstrous machine that John Henry gave his life destroying years before, a machine that will allow the Gog to control the will of men and spread darkness throughout the world.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gwynne Spencer
Book One of "The Clockwork Dark" series rests on the premise, ‘What if the legend of John Henry were more than just a story?' Evidently, I am the only person on Planet Earth who did not know the legend, either of John Henry or his nine-pound hammer, and it is not recounted in the book anywhere, so I consulted Wikipedia and found that dozens of people have recorded songs about John Henry, including Woody Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Pete Seeger, Doc Watson, Dave Van Ronk, and Johnny Cash. An equally impressive number have written and recorded songs about the legendary nine pound hammer that defeats the steam-driven drill in a contest to chip through solid rock to build a railroad tunnel somewhere Down South. Since the author is a Southern musician, the likelihood of his knowing ALL of these songs is pretty high, so I felt kind of miffed that there was not one word included in the book for a poor soul like me. I kept thinking maybe I would find a link to listen to the author sing the details for me. The story starts out with Ray and his sister on an orphan train to "somewhere north." Ray jumps off the train to begin his adventure, led by a lodestone his father gave him. He quickly meets up with a cast of weird characters (a snake lady, a blind sharpshooter, a siren, a giant) who travel together in a medicine show on a train; for quite a while it is hard to tell who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, but eventually we figure out that the friendly giant Conker, is John Henry's son (all this time I thought it was Ray) and that the Evil Gog has created a Hoarhound (a frosty machine creature who eats people) which is after them. There are numerous cinematic-style chapters in whicheach of the medicine show characters gets a chance to show off their skills, and since we can only presume there is another book to follow this, we also assume Ray does not die in this one. Somewhere in the story I had to sit back and wonder, "Whose story IS this?" since I thought, silly me, it was Ray's story. In most of the classic definitions of HERO, it is the character who is willing to lay down his life for the good of all, the one who changes the most in the story, and the one who owns the majority of the action. So Ray is disqualified on all three counts. He changes hardly at all, he is constantly rescued by others for the consequences of his actions, and he most sincerely does not lay down his life for the good of all he holds dear. It turns out the story really belongs to Conker and his nine-pound hammer. Just like the title says. So I was confused from beginning to end, left the book with a vague sense of having been misled, and smartly peeved that I still did not know the legend of John Henry, the Nine Pound Hammer, or what the Clockwork Dark was. The book feels like a screenplay turned into a novel, so it would not surprise me one smidgeon if we see a movie deal in the very near future. Reviewer: Gwynne Spencer
VOYA - Ava Ehde
At only twelve years of age, Ray and his little sister Sally speed toward their uncertain future on an orphan train. Ray has only his father's lodestone to provide a source of direction as this magical adventure unfolds. After jumping off the train at the encouragement of Mister G. Octavius Grevol, he decides to strike out on his own, leaving his sister a better chance of being adopted alone. His travels lead him to fantastic woodland encounters, a fearsome ship of pirates, and work on a medicine show train featuring sideshow performers and an enchanting siren. He encounters many amazing and frightening people, animals, and magical potions during his daytime travels, while his nightmares give him glimpses of the future, including the threat to his world by the evil Gog and his mechanical monster hound. He learns of the brave power of the Ramblers, especially that of the once mighty John Henry and his nine-pound hammer as well as his own father's heroic role in the last attempt to defeat the Gog. This rich epic fantasy draws from the roots of American and African American folklore. It engages readers and captivates them while providing exciting fodder for their imagination. It is original and fresh and definitely leaves the reader on edge waiting for the next installment in The Clockwork Dark series. Middle graders with any inclination toward fantasy or magical realism can be directed toward this one. Reviewer: Ava Ehde
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Bemis's debut novel presents a unique way of creating fantasy by drawing on the themes and archetypes of Southern folklore and American legend. In place of knights and dragons are hoodoo conjurers, pirate queens, and sirens. Twelve-year-old orphan Ray Cobb has a lodestone his father gave him that is pulling him to the South from rural Maine. He jumps from an orphan train and connects with the Ballyhoo, a train that houses a medicine show with a blind sharpshooter, a snake dancer, a fire-eater, and a sword swallower. Ray learns that his father was (and perhaps still is) Li'l Bill, a Rambler who helped John Henry win the competition with the steam engine. Ramblers, like knights of old, are protectors. Their evil adversary, known as the Gog, is a captain of industry—a cold and calculating champion of the machine who desires dominion. The medicine show is hiding the last of the mythical Swamp Sirens from him as he wants her for her ability to lure people so he can feed his evil machine with ruined souls. As the Gog rebuilds an even more monstrous machine than the one John Henry destroyed, a new generation of Rambler heroes, including Ray, takes up the fight of defending the wilderness. While Bemis's setup is fascinating, the novel is as overblown as any tall tale. The convoluted plot is difficult to unravel, and the connection with John Henry and his hammer not clear for the better part of the book.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Kirkus Reviews
What's a brother to do? It occurs to 12-year-old Ray that his younger sister will have a better chance at adoption if he disappears from the orphan train that is taking them to good homes. All he takes is the special stone left by his father. Ray connects with a traveling medicine show, where, despite the many strange personalities, he feels at home. It is after leaving them that he discovers possible links between some in the show, his father's disappearance and a force of evil seeking dominance. Set in the period after the Civil War, this first in a series provides a compelling fantasy using the tall tales of the American South and frontier. The early parts of the novel move slowly as all of the characters-including John Henry's son-and their connections are introduced. However, as Ray becomes more determined to stop the man he thinks killed his father, the pace accelerates. Bemis successfully manages the large cast and achieves a balance between the tenor of the historical period and the tall-tale tone of the story. (Fantasy. 10-14)
From the Publisher
Tom Angleberger, author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda:
"A rigorous adventure set in our own country’s folkloric past, when the sons of John Henry and Little Bill fought a desperate, fantastical battle for the soul of America. A series which any self-respecting middle school book nerd would wolf down eagerly."

Books Ahoy
:
"This is one of the best books I ever read! There are many twists and turns throughout the novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. Once I started I couldn't put it down until I was finished."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375855658
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/10/2010
  • Series: Clockwork Dark Series , #1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 355,408
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

John Claude Bemis began his writing career as a songwriter, and through oldtime country and blues music, began to explore how Southern folklore could become epic fantasy. John lives with his family in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where he teaches his favorite books to elementary school students. Visit his Web site at www.johnclaudebemis.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

He was being hunted.

The man sank to his knees in black water. The night air pulsed with the reverberations of a multitude of insects, punctuated by bullfrog croaks and the occasional splash of something leaving the muddy banks for the safety of the swamp water.

Before him, two others struggled through the marsh.

"Go!" he cried. Dragging his legs through the muck, he pulled himself up on cypress knees to the slippery embankment. Free of the mire, he ran. The palmettos and spiny bracken tore his trousers as he ripped away low-hanging limbs and spirals of Spanish moss.

Some distance behind, a hound bayed.

The other two stopped before a large pond. One was a girl with wide eyes, as fierce as lightning flashes. Scratches crisscrossed her pale arms, and a gash on her cheek bled freely. Her lips trembled. By her side stood a man with long dark hair streaked with silver; it fell about his face and covered his eyes. He held the girl's arm with one hand.

In the other he held a sparkling silver pistol.

The girl pulled toward the pond.

"No," the gunman said. "We need another way."

"But . . . the hound!" she cried.

As if in answer, a roar erupted from the dark, shaking the trees around them and silencing the buzzing chorus of insects and frogs. An icy breeze pushed back their hair as their damp clothes grew crisp.

"Go around," the man said. "Follow the pond's edge to the north and there's a crossing."

The gunman nodded and urged the girl forward. As the two disappeared into the brush, another roar tore through the trees, felling limbs and flattening shrubs. The moisture in the marshy earth froze, pushing to the surface in splinters of ice. At his back, the man heard the cracking of ice forming at the edge of the pond. He removed his straw hat and dropped it to the ground.

With a snort of cold air, an enormous muzzle broke through the trees. Slowly the hound stepped out. More massive than a bull, it was seven feet at the shoulder. Its jaws were huge. Each tooth was as long as a hunting knife. Its dark metallic eyes were set deep into bone-white fur, tufted and spiked with frost. The groaning and whining of gears churned from beneath its flesh.

The man faced the monstrous hound as it snarled and leaped forward.

Ray jerked awake. The voices of the other orphans chirped over the rattle of the train. He was in the passenger car, Mister Grevol's exquisite passenger car, with his sister, Sally, napping at his side.

Ray settled back onto the soft velvet bench and opened his hand. On his sweaty palm lay the lodestone. He hadn't meant to nod off with it in his hand. He knew better.

Pushing the lodestone into his pocket, Ray craned his neck to scan the passenger car for Miss Corey. She was still not back.

Miss Corey had given the orphans an extensive list of rules, instructions, and threats the morning before Ray and Sally and the other seventeen children boarded the beautiful, dark train with its powerful ten-wheeler locomotive:

"Mister G. Octavius Grevol is a highly respected industrialist," Miss Corey had warbled. "He has generously allowed us passage on his personal train. I expect you"--she had looked directly at Ray, who at twelve was the oldest of the orphans--"to be well-behaved, well-mannered, and to remain at all times in the passenger car designated for our use."

But Ray had never been very good at listening to rules, instructions, or threats. He had decisions to make and needed someplace quiet to think. As he stood, he glanced down at Sally. With her hands pillowing her dirty cheek on the upholstered bench and her tattered boots kicked up against...

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 20 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2010

    BEST BOOK EVER- A MUST READ!!!!!!!!

    The Nine Pound Hammer is an amazing book, you will be captured by the first page. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Like a mixture of your favorite folk tale and a Americana Harry Potter... a absolute must read for anyone 10 to 110. Very, very, very highly recommended. I would give it six stars, but there's not that much room=)

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    AN AMAZING BOOK!

    This is one of the best books I ever read! There are many twists and turns throughout the novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. Once I started I couldn't put it down until I was finished. I love the budding relationship between Ray and Conker. I love that this book also has some historical aspects because it makes the book even better than it already is. It helps add to the sense of mystery throughout the novel. This book also has a great sense of adventure. Ray and his newfound friends end up going on many adventures as the novel progresses. My favorite part of the book is the end. It was so intense and surprising. Overall, this is a great novel!! You should definitely go pick it up at your local bookstore.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2011

    Could not put the book down

    I ccould not put the book down it was so good! I even read it in the bathtub!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    Thoroughly enjoyed!

    Thoroughly enjoyed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2014

    Yess

    Goo

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    Kala

    She looked up, a grin from ear to ear. "Hellllooooo Prowl. Helloooo Ally."

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    Ally/Prowl

    Prowl: I don't like the looks of that. Ally: Thats Ink's sister!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2013

    Great book

    The author came to my school and talked to us about following our dreams amd writing. He read us a little of the book and then he had a few people act it out as he sang about John Henry. It was really funny. Really good book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 24, 2013

    Good book!  Could not put it down! A little upset at what happen

    Good book!  Could not put it down! A little upset at what happened to Seth... (felt it was a little too harsh).  Can't wait to read book 2.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 27, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    My son was 9 when we read this with him and he really liked it.

    My son was 9 when we read this with him and he really liked it. It's a fun story and the whole trilogy was great.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)