The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9781620408339. $26. FANTASY
OrangeReviewStarAs a telegraph operator in 1880s London, Nathaniel Steepleton works in the Home Office, lives in a small, spare apartment, and has a quiet life. The anonymous gift of a beautifully intricate watch changes everything. Soon after, terrorists set off a bomb using elaborate clockworks and Steepleton's device narrowly saves him from injury. He tracks down the watchmaker, Keita Mori, despite his policeman friend's suspicions that Mori might be behind the bombing. Mori is a genius craftsman with an unusual talent: he remembers the future. Mori and Steepleton's friendship is complicated by the introduction of Grace Carrow, an unconventional scientist who seeks to live unhindered by her family and society's strictures.
VERDICT This delightful first novel is as impressive as a work of historical fiction, with its evocative details of 19th-century England on the cusp of technological and cultural revolutions, as it is a delicate fantasy with enough gadgetry to pull in the steampunk fans, and a mystery to boot. The climax is so well plotted that readers will immediately want to read it again.
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