Monday, 14 August 2017

Book Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Title: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Author: Natasha Pulley
Publication Date: 2 July 2015 (ebook) or 14 July 2016 (paperback)

Twitter: @natasha_pulley


In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny flat to find a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. When the watch saves Thaniel's life in a blast that destroys Scotland Yard, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori – a kind, lonely Japanese immigrant. Meanwhile, Grace Carrow is sneaking into an Oxford library, desperate to prove the existence of the luminiferous ether before her mother can force her to marry.

As the lives of these three characters become entwined, events spiral out of control until Thaniel is torn between loyalties, futures and opposing geniuses.


With her second novel, The Bedlam Stacks being published last month, I thought this would be a great time to review Natasha Pulley's debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. I know that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, however a book that looks this good has a lot to live up to!

The tale is largely set in Victorian London around the time of the Clan na Gael Irish nationalist movement, and it was interesting to learn a bit about London politics at that time. The story also takes us to Oxford and Japan, and I greatly enjoyed the glimpse into Victorian-era Japan, a time when the country was recovering from the Boshin civil war.

The book is, in fact, gripping from start to finish, with Pulley creating a rich and detailed world that draws the reader in. Thaniel Steepleton is a telegraph clerk working for the Home Office. One evening, he returns home to his bedsit to find that his room has been broken into and a gold pocket watch has been left waiting for him. He has no idea how it got there or who it is from. After the watch saves his life in a most peculiar way, Thaniel is determined to track down its maker, the mysterious Keita Mori, a Japanese watchmaker based in Filigree Street, suspicious that he may have some involvement in a recent terrorist attack. As Thaniel and Mori strike up a friendship, the reader is also introduced to Grace Carrow, an eccentric Oxford student who has undertaken a mission to prove the existence of ether. The tale flows forth with several twists and surprises, until Thaniel finds himself torn between his two friends.

The writing is very detailed which, I felt, caused the story to drag slightly in the early chapters, however  the pace quickly picks up and falls into a steady flow. I very much enjoyed the author’s elegant and evocative writing style, such as when she is talking about the watch, Pulley writes "The gold caught the ember-light and shone the colour of a human voice"

The plot is great fun and very engaging, leading the reader into a thought-provoking journey of random chance versus destiny. Our lives are made up of a series of events which influence the direction that our futures take. Are those events predetermined? If so, what would happen if we could see those events and the impact those events will have on our future lives? 

The tale does address some weighty subjects, such as gender equality, class and racism, all issues that would have been naturally quite prevalent in society during the 1880's, however those issues are well-thought and do not distract from the main story line.

There are some little quirks to the story that I really enjoyed, including reading about Mori’s workshop and some of his seemingly magical creations. I particularly loved the addition of Katsu, the sock-stealing clockwork Octopus.

To summarise, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is an elegant, complex, and charming tale. This is a book that I would happily recommend.

About the Author

Natasha Pulley lives in Ely. She studied English Literature at Oxford University. After working as a bookseller, then at Cambridge University Press as a publishing assistant in the astronomy and maths departments, she did the Creative Writing MA at UEA. She spent nineteen months in Tokyo on a scholarship from the Daiwa Anglo–Japanese Foundation. 

Buy Links

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Cover Reveal: Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy

Today on the blog we have the exciting cover reveal for Vivian Conroy's upcoming book - Fatal Masquerade.

Fatal Masquerade is the fourth book in the Lady Alkmene cosy mystery series and follows Lady Alkmene and Jake Dubois in a gripping new adventure at a masked ball. 

Without further ado, here's the cover....

Friday, 4 August 2017

Book Review: One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

Title: One Little Mistake
Author: Emma Curtis
Publisher: Transworld Digital and Black Swan
Publication Date: 23 February 2017 (ebook) and 15 June 2017 (paperback)

Twitter: @emmacurtisbooks



Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she makes a split-second decision that risks everything she holds dear, there's only person she trusts enough to turn to.

But Vicky is about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that if you're careless with those you love, you don't deserve to keep them . . .

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Book Review: The Girl in the Spider's Web (continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series) by David Lagercrantz

Title: The Girl in the Spider's Web
Author: David Lagercrantz
Publisher: MacLehose Press
Publication Date: 7 April 2016


Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist have not been in touch for some time.

Then Blomkvist is contacted by renowned Swedish scientist Professor Balder. Warned that his life is in danger, but more concerned for his son's well-being, Balder wants Millennium to publish his story - and it is a terrifying one.

More interesting to Blomkvist than Balder's world-leading advances in Artificial Intelligence, is his connection with a certain female superhacker.

It seems that Salander, like Balder, is a target of ruthless cyber gangsters - and a violent criminal conspiracy that will very soon bring terror to the snowbound streets of Stockholm, to the Millennium team, and to Blomkvist and Salander themselves.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Book Events: Beauty & the Beast Screening, Afternoon Tea & Book Swap

This time last week I had the pleasure of attending a special screening celebrating Disney’s DVD/Blu-ray release on 17th July of the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, followed by an afternoon tea and book swap.

The event was arranged by the lovely Juliana Fenton from Premier and it was a lovely surprise to receive the invitation.

The event started at 10am, so after a bleary-eyed trek into London, I arrived at the Covent Garden Hotel where I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of a conference room (as I had anticipated), the hotel actually has a private screening room downstairs which I estimate seats around 40-50 people in total.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Book Review: My Mother's Shadow by Nikola Scott

Title: My Mother’s Shadow
Author: Nikola Scott
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: 30 May 2017

Twitter: @nikola_scott

Rating: 4 out of 5


Hartland House has always been a faithful keeper of secrets...

1958. Sent to beautiful Hartland to be sheltered from her mother's illness, Liz spends the summer with the wealthy Shaw family. They treat Liz as one of their own, but their influence could be dangerous...

Now. Addie believes she knows everything about her mother Elizabeth and their difficult relationship until her recent death. When a stranger appears claiming to be Addie's sister, she is stunned. Is everything she's been told about her early life a lie?

How can you find the truth about the past if the one person who could tell you is gone? Addie must go back to that golden summer her mother never spoke of...and the one night that changed a young girl's life for ever. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Book Review: What Alice Knew by T.A. Cotterell

Title: What Alice Knew
Author: T. A. Cotterell
Publisher: Transworld Books
Publication Date: 1 December 2016 –ePub ; 4 May 2017 - Paperback

Twitter: @TACotterell1

Rating: 4 stars


How far would you go to keep a secret?

Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.