SYNOPSIS: 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.
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Fantasy/Sci-Fi (Steampunk), Mystery
RATING: ★★★☆☆/ 3 Unexpected Stars.
REVIEW: This book was provided to me by Bloomsbury Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
When I read the synopsis for Natasha Pulley's second novel, THE BEDLAM STACKS (coming August 1st 2017), I was beyond intrigued. Plus the covers for her books are just so amazing that I had to stop and take note. So when I was offered the opportunity to read her first book as well, this one, THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET, I had to say yes. While the two books aren't technically linked together in a series, I was given to understand that there are some nods to this book and it's story in her second novel and reading this one first would enhance the reading of the second...so of course I had to read it! I love when author's do this, when you don't HAVE to read their other books to enjoy one, but for the fans, there's something special to be found amid the pages.
Okay, you're saying "that's all well and good but can you please get on with the review of THIS book," ...sure! Coming right up.
THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET is such a unique and odd book. And not in a bad way, it just took a couple extra chapters than normal to get into the swing of the author's rhythm. It has a beat all it's own that it marches to. I'm hard pressed to stick it in any distinct genre because I don't think it can be distinctly classified. That sometimes makes a book a hard sell or difficult to describe, which is probably why the given synopsis is so short. It begins with a solid foundation of Historical Fiction and then segues into a Steampunk-like Fantasy/Sci-Fi and then morphs again into Romance. And layered over all of that is Mystery...but it isn't overwhelming in any one genre. It's incredibly unique.
The book has a slower pace to it, doling out information in more of a meandering way. Each new reveal is to be treasured and stored away till later in the book when all the random pieces start to add up. I can see how this can be off-putting for certain readers who need a faster moving story or a straighter plot. It has the feel of a book that should be enjoyed slowly, on cold days, with a cup of tea and a blanket.
Thaniel is where we start and ground the story but we also get the multiple viewpoints of Grace and Keita Mori. The book also isn't completely linear because it jumps back in time to explore more of Mori's life and how he fits into the story of Thaniel. You feel like the "game" changes several times, so where you start the book and where you think it might be going is definitely different by the middle and then again by the end. Those romantic threads I mentioned earlier were carefully woven through the book and when it fully manifests, that is where I think the book and author shined.
I like the book and was intrigued by the author's different writing style. I'm excited to read her next book and to see how she has evolved and tackles a new story.
Review by The Literary Llama