Recommendation: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
I’m a little nervous about my first recommendation. I want to make a good impression and share something I love. But sharing things I love makes me a little bit anxious. But you’re a good crowd, right? So, here goes.
I’d like to recommend The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley. It came out in 2015 and has a slew of awards and nominations. I would love to recommend something new and not as well-known, but…this book is simply amazing. And it’s exactly the kind of thing that Quixotic Quill aspires to be.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, and I actually advocate going into a new book cold. The thrill of discovery is a major part of reading for me. I suppose I should give a short description though. It’s about a man in London in the 1880s who stumbles upon a life he had no idea existed for him. He is thrown into events that lead him to new people and new possibilities, all after the appearance of a pocket watch. I know it’s a really terrible summary but I just can’t bring myself to reveal any more. If you simply must read a longer description you can check it out here.
The wonderful thing about this book is the way it blends a fantasy world with the real world. It’s hard at times to even call this a fantasy novel, it’s just so subtle. Part of it’s charm, and a contributing factor to the fantasy feeling of the whole thing, is the use of color. The main character has chromesthesia; he sees colors when he hears sounds. I am a very visual person and using colors to evoke feelings is the fastest way to draw me into a new world. This element lends magic to even the unmagical parts of the story.
I’ve read dozens of books that take place in London but this one still managed to be unique. The historian in me was glad to see that in addition to the infusion of subtle magic, this book also featured a side of London that is rarely discussed. The reader is introduced to the Japanese immigrant portion of the city. I’m sure I’ve read books that discussed immigrants in London, but not Japanese individuals. Maybe I’m just reading the wrong kinds of books. In any case, it was a fascinating facet to the story.
The writing is fluid and the characters are real. This book makes you think about the choices you make and the futures you could have. And Pulley keeps you guessing ‘till the end. If you want a good story with a dash of magic, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is the book for you.
Have you read this book? Tell me in the comments what you thought.