The Watchmaker of Filigree Street / Natasha Pulley

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Yes, yes, I know – I have been a terrible blogger. All my dreams and plans of documenting my amazing research trip in real time so as to save all of my impressions for posterity, and giving you all a little window into the life of a beginning researcher, went out of the window once I actually landed in England and became so preoccupied with my day-to-day reality there. The trip was amazing, and I am still harbouring a little hope that I will recap it in a couple of photo-heavy posts in the near future (just as soon as I finish this really stressful deadline-filled stretch of time that I’m currently in). In the meanwhile, here’s a little book review on the last book I’ve read.

From the description I was sure, for some reason, that this was a detective mystery book, so I was a bit surprised when it veered off in other directions. At first I was completely drawn into the world of this book. It had a Sherlock-y vibe – slightly dusted with charcoal, Victorian, taking place in Scotland Yard. The ‘feeling’ of the book – its setting, atmosphere, details, ideas, and language, are its best qualities. Its worst qualities? the narrative, which was overly twisted, and its internal logic. I am completely willing to suspend disbelief and delve into a world that works according to different natural laws, I only ask that it will be consistent and logical (the king of this sort of thing is Brandon Sanderson, who takes after the legacy of world-builders such as Tolkien). Here I felt that there was no such logic with the special powers of one of the characters who can “see” the future. I did like the inventiveness of Pulley, who based the science in her book on the Victorian notions of physics, and among them the idea of ‘aether’ an element that supposedly permeated all the spaces in the world. and was responsible for gravity and the travelling of light. I also liked the descriptions of Mori’s clockwork shop – cosy and whimsical, a combination of the British and the Japanese, it was one of the highlights of the book. One last thing I highly disliked was the way that Grace’s character developed; I really liked her at first since it is a tendency of mine to adore female scientist characters, especially in historical novels, but she quickly devolved into a weak and annoying character.

L. J. G.

P.S. – am I the only one who was really shipping Mori and Thaniel? At one point I was sure the writer was hinting at that as well, but I’m not sure if I imagined it

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