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3.7 out of 5
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Strange and complicated novel!

    The Watchmaker on Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley is a Victorian steampunk mystery novel. Nathaniel “Thaniel” Steepleton is a telegraph operator at Whitehall (government). He has held the position for the last four years. Thaniel prefers playing the piano, but it did not pay enough to support himself and his widowed sister, Annabel (who lives in Edinburgh with her two sons). The government have been receiving threats of bombs from Clan na Gael. Everyone is on alert and preparing for the worst. One night Thaniel arrives home to his room at the boarding house to find the door open, the dishes done and put away (not by the landlady). Thaniel then spies a gift box with his name on it. Inside is a beautiful pocket watch. It does not open and he cannot hear it working. Two months later it starts working and saves Thaniel. A loud noise comes from the watch making him go outside and saves him from a bomb. Thaniel goes looking for the creator of the watch. Grace Carrow is at the end of her fourth and final year at Oxford. She has a beautiful watch with filigree that looks like swallows flying. Grace inherited a house from her aunt, but she cannot have it unless she marries (it is being held in trust by her father). Grace loves science. She wants to do research and to teach. Her mother, Lady Carrow is determined Grace will marry and make a good match. Grace has money, a house, and needs a husband who will allow her experiments. Thaniel and Grace are destined to meet for good or for bad? Keita Moiri makes items out of clockworks. He made the watch for Thaniel and Grace. He has many beautiful items in his shop. There is also a clockwork octopus named Katsu. Katsu likes to live in a dresser drawer and steal socks. Keita has a special talent. Thaniel is not sure what to make of Keita when he first meets him. He thinks Keita might be behind the bombings (the maker of the bombs). Thaniel is tasked with keeping an eye on Keita and to get evidence. Keita has a room to rent and Thaniel moves in (Katsu really likes Thaniel’s dresser). Thaniel really gets to know Keita and finds out about his talent (and innocence). Thaniel now has to save Keita from the police (who are determined to pin the bombings on him) and find the real culprit. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a complicated novel. I have only given you a small snippet of what happens in the novel. It is an interesting book, but there are too many ideas shoved into one story (hard to keep track of all the characters and everything that is going on). There are also a lot of technical, scientific terms and explanations that will give you a headache. The book gets better towards the end (if you get that far) and the identity of the bomb maker is easily figured out. What Grace does, though, is definitely a shock and unexpected (sorry, spoiler)! I give The Watchmaker of Filigree Street 3.5 out of 5 stars. I received a complimentary copy of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.
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    Steampunk crossed with Mystery and a Love Story

    The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a wonderful love story, period piece, historical crime novel…actually, it’s hard to define. It’s beautifully written and is wonderfully narrated. I listened to this novel over the course of a couple weeks and found, at one point, I couldn’t turn it off. The first character the readers are introduced to is ‘Thaniel. He is a British Telegraph operator, well; maybe he’s a pianist who longs to play beautiful music. There is Grace, an upper class lady attending Oxford who will marry well and maintain the family lineage, well; maybe she’s a world class physicist about to make a discovery that revolutionizes science. Then there is Mori, a Japanese native living in London who makes the most amazing watches and other mechanical devices AND he’s a clairvoyant. When these three lives get woven together they change in dramatic ways. This novel has so many layers and not all is as it appears on the surface. It will appeal to a broad audience, particularly to book groups who like lively discussions. As I listened to this novel, I found myself wondering about Japan and Britain’s early diplomatic relations. I wondered about the role women had in scientific research at the turn of the 20th Century. I also wondered about the Suffrage movement and the struggles for Irish Independence. The author, Natasha Pulley, obviously did her research and the novel is better for it. If only History were taught like this in school. The narrator did an especially good job with the nuances of the various accents. Londoner’s have their own set of accents, but Thomas Judd, the narrator, even captured the differences of the Japanese speakers who all had their own specific accents. I highly recommend this book and give it a 4.
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    Utterly fantastic

    I was hooked from the first chapter. Beautiful, disturbing, sweet and romantic. It transdends genre, I think - and I intend no disrespect to genre by saying so.
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    Mind-bending

    I really really enjoyed this book. There were a few moments that I had to go back and reread in order to truly comprehend. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the twists & turns!! I will definitely check out her future novels!! Way to Go on your first Novel Natasha!!!
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    Excellent!

    This book walks the perfect line between entertainment and insight. A little history, a little mystery, a little physics, and some very quirky characters. A great debut.
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