Title: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Author: Natasha Pulley
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery
My Rating: 2 stars
My first impression of this book was that it had a relaxed manner and that the characters were going to have a lot of depth. Not a whole lot happened in the first section of the book-aside from a bombing- but there were enough interesting details about the characters and their lives to entice me into continuing further. I would recommend going into this book relatively unaware of what it’s about, so that the mysteries can be revealed to you in their own time and so that the truth of what’s going on comes as a surprise. We follow three separate storylines, but slowly each storyline reveals that it may be related to the others in some way. This book mostly felt like a historical fiction with some mystery woven in, and for the most part I enjoyed the blurred genre of the story.
– humor without overdoing it, an underlying mystery, characters whose lives intertwine in unexpected ways
– a medieval house full of clockwork; a clockwork octopus, clockwork birds, and a clockwork solar system
– plot moves at a snail’s pace, and honestly it became quite tedious
– this is very clearly a debut novel; the dialog is clunky and the writing is awkward at times
– my best descriptors for this novel would be “slow” and “boring” (sorry!)
– lots of tea drinking and telegraphs and not much actual plot progression
– whole paragraphs could be skipped and you wouldn’t miss out on anything
Unfortunately, there were points in the story where the plot stalled and I found myself barely paying attention to the words my eyes were passing over. There is a lot of tea drinking and descriptions of life at the telegraph office, and since there are a few characters whose lives we are following, it took a while to get through the introductory parts of each of their stories. I think the clockwork octopus and the hints of underlying mystery were the only two things to keep me reading when things slowed down in the first half of the novel. All of their paths intertwine eventually, but things continue to move slowly even after this happens. I knew I was in trouble when I went to check the length of the novel and found that it was only 318 pages, versus the 500+ I assumed it to be based on how long it was taking me to progress towards the end.
The writing can be awkward and disjointed, and there were times when I had trouble following which “him” or “her” the author was referring to because of the unclear way it was written. The dialog between the characters seemed to have missing pieces sometimes, and I had to go back and reread sections every once in a while to make sure I didn’t miss something. Aside from these issues, I really did enjoy the author’s writing style; the novel had a great atmosphere and the mix of steampunk/history/mystery/etc totally worked for me.
While the novel had enough to hold my interest til the end, it is not something I will be recommending to anyone anytime soon. The slow pace was almost enough to make me quit reading, and unless there are some big changes between this book and the next, I’m unlikely to continue with the series. I really am hopeful that things get better from here, though, because there were some really good ideas hidden away behind all of this book’s mishaps. I just can’t give this story much merit when I made it all the way to the end and was left with a feeling that nothing of substance actually took place.