Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

clockworkI found book very confusing. I kept expecting it to be fantasy, but it really read like historical fiction set around the turn of the century. The historical detail is wonderful, but nothing about it seemed to be fantasy. Well, maybe the green violin that Guiseppe rescued from the harbor that, when he played it, seemed to bring magic to his music and dance to the feet of everyone listening. There are 3 main characters, and, of course, their lives intersect, and therein lies the charm of the story. They each live with terrible circumstances: Guiseppe is beaten by his padrone (owner), and lives in fear of being locked in the rat cellar if he doesn’t earn enough money; Frederick is haunted by his memories of bad treatment at the orphanage, and tormented by the question of what happened to his mother; and Hannah watches her once active stonemason father waste away from some unknown illness, too ill to work to support his family, and no money for medicine to save him. The whole story sort of hinges around a hidden treasure Hannah overhears her evil employers talking about. She’s determined to find out where it is, even if she has to lose her job to do it. Frederick is trying to build an automaton so he’ll be accepted into the guild with the title of journeyman, and he’s determined to find out what happened to his mother. Guiseppe wants to earn enough money to buy a ticket back to Italy so he can reunite with his brother and sister. They end up helping each other, and providing each other with something none of them have ever had –good friends. Back to the question of the book being fantasy. There is the matter of the piece of clay Hannah steals from the museum with the tag “golem” on it, which, when inserted into the automaton, not only makes it functional, but gives it heart. The only other thing is the green violin, which really does bring magic to Guiseppe’s playing. I’ve heard that some reviewers are referring to this book as being steampunk. I’m not sure about that, but here’s the Wikipedia definition of steampunk: “In general, the category includes any recent science fiction that takes place in a recognizable historical period (sometimes an alternate history version of an actual historical period) where the Industrial Revolution has already begun but electricity is not yet widespread, with an emphasis on steam- or spring-propelled gadgets.” You can decide for yourself if the book fits that classification or not. All in all, it’s a good read, although I found the ending very rushed and the wrap-up of the plot forced. Review by Stacy Church

No comments: