The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street
A good time
Release Date: 2 July
318 pages | Hardback/ paperback/ ebook Author: Natasha Pulley Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus
Welcome to tickpunk. Natasha Pulley’s debut novel is a whimsical fantasy set in Victorian London, but it’s clockwork not water pressure that powers the futuristic tech here.
Actually, the tick- tech is just a minor element of this offbeat tale of a Japanese watchmaker in London who appears to be able to predict the future. Thaniel Steepleton, a Home Office clerk who runs his life like clockwork, crosses paths with the mysterious Keita Mori when he’s left a watch – by persons unknown – which emits an alarm just before a bomb explodes in Westminster. A clockwork bomb. Mori becomes the main suspect and Steepleton becomes part of the investigation, going undercover as the watchmaker’s lodger. As a result, Steepleton becomes involved with Japanese nationalism, Gilbert and Sullivan and an Oxford student who thinks she’s worked out how to prove the existence of the ether.
Part Susanna Clarke, part Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street is a delightful read that benefits from wonderfully colourful characters and a lyrical prose style full of esoteric detail.
The plot sags and meanders in places, and the structure, which has occasional flashbacks inelegantly inserted, feels a little clumsy. The book’s eccentricities and charm, however, make sure it remains a compelling read. Dave Golder A fascinating fact we learnt from the book: a literal translation of the Japanese word for hedgehog is “needle rat”.