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Bombs and Gorgeous Automatons: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Saturday, March 12th, 2016 | Posted by Damien Moore

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street-small The Watchmaker of Filigree Street-back-small

Imagine living in 1800s London and working near Scotland Yard as a telegraphist. Now, imagine how the foundations of your uneventful life are upended when a stranger saves you from a catastrophic bombing. And get this: they knew it would happen.

Thus begins The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. When Thaniel Steepleton, the disillusioned telegraphist, befriends Keita Mori, a masterful watchmaker, their lives begin to weave around the clock. Cursed with the ability to see the future, Mori struggles to live in the present whilst preventing bad things from happening to Thaniel. In the meantime, bad things unfortunately happen to Mori, considering he ranks as the premier suspect in the bombing. Later on, a brilliant physicist named Grace enters their lives and attempts to rid Mori of his ability to foretell the future.

Along with this gripping tale, we learn about Mori’s aristocratic past in a war-torn Japan. We also learn the reason why he needed to start his life anew in London. Matsumoto, a man from his past, also journeys to London and weaves in and out of Grace’s life, hoping to find a place of permanence. The two subplots strengthen the plot in their center.

Pulley writes in a commanding and vivid style. This pairs beautifully with her devotion to her characters. As they attempt to make sense of their dazzling predicaments, Pulley’s descriptions of High Society London burst from the pages. The exquisite portrait she paints of the interior of a quiet tea shop will linger in your mind long after you’ve read about it. So, too will Pulley’s descriptions of the watchmaker’s wondrous creations. If they don’t enchant you, well, then I guess you’re not into the whole gorgeous automaton craze. Hopefully, Pulley succeeds in getting you to fall in love with Mori’s creations.

That’s the one thing I found fault with in this tale: love and the way it entered the plot. When two important characters act on their romantic feelings for one another, it feels as though Pulley stirred their love into her mix without taking the time to build up the tension between them beforehand. Despite this, I think you’ll get plenty of satisfaction out of the book, especially if time fascinates you.


Zeta Moore’s last review for us was Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. She is exploring work in care for individuals on the autism spectrum, and nerding out when she can.

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