Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Friday, January 19, 2018

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TheWatchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley 

Release Date: July 2015 
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA 
Type: Adult Fiction 
Pages: 318 

Summary: 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 Review:

The summary above is vague because to tell the reader what makes this book special is a mild spoiler. That being said, be warned as I don't want to be vague when discussing how great this book is, so mild spoilers ahead.

This is one of those books that I felt a type of pressure to read because I just kept seeing it. At work, at the store, and online! I follow a few bookstagrammers on Instagram and this book kept popping up! I have a collection of photos saved to my account of book recommendations and when I went through this book was saved 3 different times. I'm telling you it was fate when I finally found it at the library!

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is set in Victorian London mostly and a few chapters in Japan. I love this time period and I love clockwork so right away I'm invested. The main characters are primarily Thaniel and Mori, both of whom I absolutely adore. Thaniel is a low key bloke just trying to do what's right and is intriguing in his manner of being. He works for the government as a telegraph clerk and suddenly one day his life is drastically altered because of a watch. A clock that Mori made.

Then there's Mori himself. (Here comes those minor spoilers!) Mori is a little bit magic. This book blends contemporary Victorian with fantasy seamlessly and it is beautiful. Mori can remember what's about to happen. He is sort of clairvoyant as he can see the moment one decides to do something and the possibilities that action opens up. This blew my mind. I've been thinking about it for days. Once his abilities are explained further thinking about it sent me down the rabbit hole. If one could see the various outcomes of what one only intends to do it must become maddeningly endless. And then there is Mori's work. He is the watchmaker on Filigree Street after all. His clockwork is years beyond its time and frankly even our time. Can you imagine a clockwork octopus set to random gears so it appears to think on its own? And moves like it's real?! I'm trying to and it doesn't seem logical without magic. Imagine having a pet octopus or bird that is clockwork? I wish that clockwork would make a come back. This book made me want to take apart my mom's cuckoo clock to see how it works (she would murder me dead twice over). Katsu, by the way, is the octopus and he's a scene stealer. I loved him so much.

The plot of The Watchman of Filigree Street is just as intriguing as its characters are. It's part fantasy, part thriller with some mystery and drama thrown in. There's bombs and fake marriages and domestic life and politics all rolled into one package. There was a bit about three quarters of the way in though where I wasn't sure if anything was actually happening. The plot slowed and I didn't really see how it could all wrap up together and then WHOA it started to go so fast that I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Not a bad fast, just a fast paced mystery unraveling and you're trying to keep up with the revelations. You know what I mean?

There is nothing about this book that I would change. Natasha Pulley is a fantastic author who we are very lucky to have. I read on Goodreads that she is writing a sequel and I dearly hope that it's true because I am itching to read more about Thaniel and Mori. I can see this being an interesting series for many more books to come.