Author: Natasha Pulley
Book: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Published: May 2016
Thaniel Steepleton is a Morse code operator at the Home Office in London in 1883. He lives a reasonably quiet life trying to support his widowed sister’s family. This is a time of civil unrest in the British Empire. Irish nationalists are agitating for independence, with some factions willing to resort to terrorism. One day, Thaniel returns home to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, a bomb goes off, destroying Scotland Yard. The mysterious watch sounds an alarm that saves his life. He finds the watchmaker is one Keita Mori, a lonely, eccentric immigrant from Japan. The two strike up a friendship, but a chain of unexplainable events suggests something sinister is afoot. Then, Thaniel becomes engaged to a young woman named Grace Carrow, who is studying physics at Oxford. When she suspects Mori is at the center of these events, Thaniel finds his allegiances torn.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is written along the lines of steampunk but focusses more on the clockwork end of things. We see fantastic watches, clockwork birds, even a clockwork octopus that takes things that don’t belong to it. The story blends historical events into a fantastic world. Unfortunately, the author does a bit of time jumping, which disturbs the forward momentum, and the storytelling is a bit disjointed in places. The pace of the story slows towards the end, before the final crisis point where it does pick up. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a story with a lot of unrealized potential.