Natasha Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

In The Watchmaker of Filigree Street a strange, locked watch is left in Nathaniel’s (or Thaniel, which he prefers) room. When bombs with the same elaborate clockwork blow up many public buildings, Thaniel has to solve the mystery and find out who made these complex bomb timers. 

I picked up this novel in a secondhand shop because of its beautiful cover. Absolutely love it! But unfortunately I didn’t really fall in love with the book itself.

One wonderful thing did happen though: I met my favourite fictional pet EVER. It’s a octopus named Katsu made of clockwork parts and who likes to steal socks – What makes characters who like socks so cute? Dobby was also adorable with his colourful, mismatching socks.

And I have to admit that I found the story to be thrilling at times. Especially the clash (read: a huge disagreement) between Thaniel and a scientist from Oxford called Grace about the Japanese watchmaker. For Thaniel he’s a lonely man and a friend, but Grace sees him as playing God, doing with people whatever he likes. The reader gets to see both sides as the book switches between their points of view, and so we can make up our own mind.

The setting of London on the verge of the 20th century combined with elements of steampunk worked really well for this story as well. It feels real but the mystical elements make the story better than reality – oh, how I wish Katsu was real.

However, one thing that wasn’t convincing all the time was the dialogue. It felt forced even unnatural and made it hard to really care for the characters. The pacing also was off sometimes. But what really frustrated me was the fact that sometimes the images didn’t add up.

You know how people say that reading a book is like watching a film in your head? Well, it is and it isn’t. For me, I only become conscious of that ‘film’ when something isn’t right and that completely takes me out of the story, as happened with The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. There were inconsistencies, people standing somewhere all of a sudden, or just descriptions that lacked details so that I couldn’t picture the scene.

Maybe Pulley’s writing is just not my cup of tea or maybe there really were flaws – whatever it was, I didn’t fall head over heels in love with this novel. I still liked the vibe though and will buy some more steampunk books for sure!


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