Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
By Natasha Pulley
Bloomsbury USA July 2015
336 pages
From the library

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street  

Thaniel Steepleton would certainly not call his life exciting. He works as a telegraph operator in the Home Office and then returns to his small apartment each night. One day, he finds a pocket watch on his bed that he has never seen before. Assuming it is a gift from his sister, he largely ignores it until the day it saves his life. Thaniel decides that if he cannot figure out who left him the watch, he can at least talk to the man who made it - Keita Mori. The watchmaker is a quiet man from Japan who quickly becomes a friend to Thaniel, but he suspects that Mori has dark and dangerous secrets. Is Mori himself behind the explosions that rocked London or did he just save Thaniel through his ingenious watchwork? Is he a criminal mastermind or in danger from a determined villain?

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street reminded me in several good ways of Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker, which is one of my favorite books in recent years. There is intricate and amazing clockwork and mechanics in both stories and each one features a protagonist who is as shocked as anyone else to find that he is at the center of an adventure. That being said, this book also shows itself as a debut novel in some spots where the story dragged a bit.

The most wonderful thing about this novel is the characters and the possibilities with which Ms. Pulley imbues them. Mori is a genius who makes a semi-aware mechanical octopus that crawls around his house. He also happens to be a former samurai/Japanese nobleman who can see the future, or at least all of the possibilities of the future. As if Thaniel and Mori weren't interesting enough, they warily join forces with Grace Carrow, one of the few female physicists at Oxford University.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is as intricately composed as the inner workings of a watch. Ms. Puelley takes us down dead ends and makes us deliciously unsure who we can trust. Each one of the characters is a bit of an outcast and the most delightful part of the story is watching them find people they can love and maybe even trust. This is a fantastic debut.


  1. I'm glad this one worked better for you than it did for me! I blame my lackluster experience on the horrible formatting of my digital ARC. Katsu is the best. <3

    1. Bummer! I think one of my favorite parts was the beautiful cover and formatting. I did go through some sections where I wasn't sure I was going to love it, but then Pulley did some new magic and I was hooked again.

      Always Team Katsu! :)

  2. This sounds like a fun read! I'll definitely be adding it to my wish list. Thanks for the great review!

  3. These characters and the intricate story sound fascinating! I'll keep this one on my radar :)