The Watchmaker of Filgree Street Review

Please note: If you have not read “The Watchmaker of Filgree Street” by Natasha Pulley, avoid reading this review if you don’t want spoilers. However, if you don’t mind or already read the book, feel free to read it.

Another book review is here, and this time I’m looking at “The Watchmaker of Filgree Street” by Natasha Pulley. It’s been far too long since I read a book in the steampunk genre, and so I thought I’d give it a try again. Here’s the summary so we have an idea of what it’s about:

1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.”

What really bothered me throughout the whole book was the inconsistency of verb tenses. Sometimes, the writing goes from past to future tenses, such as “looked round” to “would hear” in the same paragraph. This made this book difficult to read. Editing the story so the verb tenses have further consistency would be helpful.

I also disliked how the flashbacks were utilized in the book. Although the chapters are marked so we literally know what month and year the chapters take place in, the transition between the present times of the story to past memories still felt abrupt at times and I wish there was a smoother transition somehow.

Plotwise, I thought the story was really slow at the beginning. The writing describes every single thing that the main character, Thaniel, did and it was excessive to the point of the story being lagging. I almost didn’t finish the book because of this. I also wasn’t exactly sure of what the plot was. Though the characters were doing things in the book, I didn’t understand how they exactly amounted to a plot. Most of the characters’ actions felt thrown together under the pretense of it being a plot, but in reality their actions lack meaning and/or significance to the plot. I also thought the ending was lackluster and didn’t bring any closure to the story, either.

I also disliked the character of Grace Carrow. I understand she is meant to be a woman trying to be independent in her society, but despite what she did in the book it didn’t exactly feel like she had much significance to the plot other than being married off to Thaniel and beating up Mori for what feels like no reason at all. She felt very static, unchanging, and I disliked the heavy lack of development.

Despite these negative points, however, the one thing I enjoyed about the book was Thaniel and Mori’s relationship and how it developed. Thaniel is the temperate guy who demands answers, while Mori prefers to keep calm and try to carry on. I had to read very carefully to understand how the development in their relationship went from friendship to a romantic one, but this was the part of the story I enjoyed the most.

Overall, I rate this book 1.5 out of 5 stars, due to the saving grace of this book being Thaniel and Mori’s relationship despite its many flaws. I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you want to read a decent romance set in a steampunk world.

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