Book Review: ‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ by Natasha Pulley

“He held the watch a moment longer before setting it on the wooden chair by the bed, the one that served as a table for collars and cufflinks. The gold caught the ember-light and shone the colour of a human voice.”

‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ is one of the best books I have ever read. I am currently reading it for the fourth time!

Set in 1884, the story follows Nathaniel Steepleton, a telegraphist for the Home Office. One night, he returns to his flat and finds a golden watch on his pillow. Six months later, the watch saves him from a bomb. Nathaniel seeks answers from the watch’s creator – Keita Mori, a mysterious, lonely Japanese nobleman.

Meanwhile, Oxford student Grace Carrow is trying to finish her research before her mother can force her to marry. As Grace and Mori’s storylines interlink, Nathaniel must choose between warring loyalties and futures.

‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ is a charming novel which blends history and politics with fantasy and science-fiction. All of the characters are breathtakingly real. Keita Mori is my favourite character of all time, and his relationship with Nathaniel is wonderful.

I liked this book even more when I read it a second time, because it has so many tiny moments of foreshadowing. The story’s complexity made it slightly confusing the first time around, but I still adored it. It also taught me lots about the Meiji era in Japan.

I recommend this book to anybody who likes subtle fantasy and character-driven stories. The sequel is just as good – I will review it soon!

Rating: 10/10

Genres: historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, romance, lgbt

Book Review: ‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novik

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

I recently read this book for the second time and it is just as brilliant as I remember. The novel follows Agnieszka, a young woman who lives at the border of a magical, malevolent Wood. She and the other villagers are reliant on an immortal wizard – the Dragon – to protect them from it.

But his protection has a price. Every ten years, the Dragon takes a girl from the valley to serve him in his tower. For all of Agnieszka’s life, she has believed that he will take her best friend.

Yet when the day comes, he picks Agnieszka.

‘Uprooted’ is an immersive story that combines high fantasy with politics, romance and Polish folklore. The writing is beautiful and highly inventive. Novik makes the threat of the Wood feel real, building the tension all the way to the end.

Agnieszka is a compelling protagonist and the Dragon is complex but likeable. However, apart from a few exceptions, the side characters are quite forgettable. Kasia, Agnieszka’s best friend, is particularly underdeveloped.

Nevertheless, Uprooted is one of my favourite books. It is full of mystery, magic and horror. I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy!

Rating: 8/10

Genres: high fantasy, romance, adult, young adult, standalone, fairytale

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