This is a glorious tribute to H. G. Wells, borrowing strongly from both The Time Machine and War of the Worlds. Its set in that late Victorian era beloved of steampunk when Science! was happening and there were leaps of progress and borrows strongly from that early science fiction tradition.
Whilst the characters are occasionally a bit wooden in that “stiff upper lip” manner, they have some personality and backstory at least. There is even a dynamic female character who is key to the whole story, even if she is inevitably the love interest.
I do however object to the cover, as the first thing we are told about the machine is that despite first impressions it doesn’t look like a clock after all, just that style of machining. So what do they use but a picture of a clock to illustrate the cover??