Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street - Natasha Pulley - magical

The blurb

1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.

My thoughts ...

I want a clockwork octopus! Now that's not a phrase I ever thought I'd hear myself utter but I fell head over heels for Katsu the clockwork octopus in this beguiling and totally charming story.

My beautiful hardback copy of this book was a prize I won in a blog competition. I sort of had mixed feelings about it before I read it, especially when a couple of reviews describe it as steampunk - me and steampunk haven't got a very good history so far. However I wouldn't really categorise this as steampunk. It's really hard to put in any kind of genre-box - it's completely original, totally unique and absolutely. mind blowingly, beautiful. It reads like the bizarre love child of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters and The Time Traveller's Wife

When we meet Thaniel it's London in the late 1880's, he's working as a telegraphist for the Home office and the story just sweeps you into this gossamery historical setting which is ever so slightly skewed from reality. It's magical and enchanting with amazing characters, several of whom are Japanese. On one hand there is Kaito Mori the eponymous watchmaker, delicate, quiet and determined who is a genius at manufacturing delicate clockwork machinery and has the uncanny ability of being able to "remember" the future, on the other there is Matsumoto a dapper young man about town with a penchant for designer clothing who is the unlikely companion of Grace Carrow a bluestocking who studies science, conducts experiments and cross dresses to avoid the female discrimination which is rife in Victorian Oxford.

Thaniel comes into possession of a watch created by Mori and this is the first in a long series of events which change his life beyond recognition, beginning with a bomb blast and the search for the perpetrators of the explosion, seemingly pointing to the gentle and unassuming Watchmaker Mori for whom Thaniel develops a fondness as the 2 share humour and kindness, both qualities which have been lacking in Thaniels pretty mundane existence.

The whole book has a magical dream like quality, EVERYTHING about it is completely original and captivating, from Thaniels ability to hear sound in colour and his penchant for drinking real loose tea, to the Japanese village in Hyde Park, not to mention Gilbert and Sullivan playing supporting roles? It's painted with the most delicate of touches and delectable etherealness yet is also very down to earth. 

The cover is beautiful too with a die cut clockwork front and gold leaf on a velvety black background adding to the complete reading experience I'd have nissed if I'd read the ebook.

I finished reading it late last night and immediately wanted to turn back to the very first page and read it again. I loved it and am left almost bereft by its absence now I've reached the astute and inventive ending.

Finally a huge thanks to Pam Reader for hosting the giveaway which allowed me to win this delightful book.

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