What if you had never met that person? How different would your life be without that first hello? In any life there are people who can change the course of action. This is what happens when Thaniel Steepleton meets the Japanse watchmaker Keita Mori. Against all odds they befriend each other – or was it a friendship that was always meant to be? Baron Mori makes Thaniel into another, better version of himself. At first you can’t imagine the chances of them meeting, but their lives become so intertwined it’s impossible to imagine it any other way.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street excels with its own rules and style. It’s been often compared to The Night Circus, including me while reading this. However the comparision is only because it seems to be the same sort of genre. This has wonderful complex characters and development, magical realism, a dash of steampunk, countless of possibilities and inevitable faith. I can’t bring myself to put a label on it. That wouldn’t do it justice.
You see, in most books things start out great for the characters but genuinely get worse and worse. Only to come back around in the end. Natasha Pulley doesn’t care much for this format. She is skilled enough to tell a story where the character is stuck in an ordinary life, but finds luck along the way. He lived his life like a clockwork, always carrying out the same motions. But then something happens that stops the clockwork, although you can count on the watchmaker to wind him up again. Throughout the book everything clicks for him, but it’s never boring.
There’s a slow pace that comes with all the luck that very much suits all the Japanese characters in this book (and there were a lot). But in the end it gets a thrilling finale with twists that are as unpredictable as the toss of a coin or using dice. I can imagine that it’s so easy to overdo it, which will make the reader feel like Thaniel gets way too much. But it all happens organically, which only a truly gifted writer can achieve. In this book full of wonders and science ahead of its time there’s only one thing I found unbelievable. I didn’t really understand how an ordinary man with average intelligence managed to learn Japanese out of dictionary in only a few months.
That didn’t stop me from adding this novel to my favorites. It’s not just the fact that the story combines two of my favorite topics: Japan and steampunk Victorian London. It does so without feeling too intense or too much. The story slowly grabs you and without noticing you’re engulfed. It’s a love story, it’s a mystery, it’s an historic novel and I can only hope that in 100 years it will be a classic.