Combines speculative fantasy and historical fiction with a generous helping of Sherlockian detective work.
Why I love it
What could be better than a tale of adventure that is also a historical novel, a love story, a mystery, and a fantasy? Natasha Pulley delivers it all in her stunning debut novel. Magical mechanical inventions—like an octopus who steals socks, tiny golden birds that spray the sky with fireworks, and vines that turn dead trees into living things—help to weave magic and fantasy through a story that's set in a real place at a real time.
Thaniel Steepleton is working at the Home Office of the British Government, lamenting his lost dreams of being a concert pianist. He had to give it all up when his sister's husband died, making him the sole breadwinner for her and her two children. Thaniel works long hours, lives in a colorless flat, has few friends, and not much to brighten his daily life.
One day he comes home to find a mysterious and beautiful gold watch in his room. Has his sister left it for him as a birthday gift? Or is there something more sinister about this magical gift that seems to have appeared from nowhere? As his uneasiness over its origins increase, he sets off to discover the truth behind the enigmatic watch and find its creator. His investigations take him from Victorian London to the crumbling cities of post-civil war Japan, where the mysteries of his watch seem only to deepen.
Pulley takes elements of speculative fantasy and historical fiction with a generous helping of Sherlockian detective work and combines them all together in a story that is stunningly graceful, deeply moving, and absolutely entertaining. In the end, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is about the power of love, the twists of fate, the inequities of destiny, and the necessity of being true to one's self. I loved this novel of adventure and intrigue and, for me, the extra lashings of mystery and fantasy sent it flying into the stratosphere of a great read.