Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**A huge thank you to Bloomsbury USA via NetGalley for providing me a digital ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review**

Had I known that this book would feature one of the loveliest friendships I’ve encountered in some time, I’d have snapped it up much faster. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This Sherlock Holmes-esque story — in which our “Holmes” is a clairvoyant Japanese watchmaker and our “Watson” is a Whitehall telegraph clerk who possesses synesthesia — follows in the footsteps of more recent Holmes adaptations by focusing on character over plot. Considering I’m someone who loves a good plot, you’d think this might irritate me, and I’ll admit that I found the first quarter or so of this novel before our watchmaker and clerk meet quite slow. But, goodness, once they do meet, this novel caught me in a kind of hypnosis and I just couldn’t stop reading.

The characters are first-rate because they’re on the verge of being misfits who manage to blend relatively well within the society of Victorian London — whose atmosphere and period is beautifully recreated without ever seeming to steal the thunder of the characters. One is always aware that this story really could not have taken place anywhere else: the story and the characters’ own professions depend upon the setting, and I for one wouldn’t want this story to have taken place in any other time. Everything about the city feels alive in this novel — full of sights and sounds and colour.

Despite the plot playing second-fiddle to the phenomenal, lovable characters, it is delightfully labyrinthine as would befit anything from Sir Arthur’s mind. Is it a tad ludicrous at its conclusion? Sure — but would it be any fun if it weren’t? It’s the element of the outrageous that has cemented Sherlock Holmes as one of the most beloved literary characters of all time. And I am sure it is that sort of thing that will find “The Watchmaker of Filigree Street” a good legion of devoted fans.

View all my reviews

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