Monday, December 1, 2014

The Clockwork Three

The Clockwork Three: A Penny Dreadful Review

            A street musician trapped in servitude. A maid struggling to keep her parents and sisters from the streets. An orphaned clockmaker’s apprentice determined to create the most impressive contraption the Guild has ever seen. A salvaged violin with magical qualities. A hidden treasure. A famous hotel. An ancient automaton. What brings these together? Matthew Kirby, the author of the excellent young adult novel The Clockwork Three.       
            I love this book. Kirby creates three very different young characters with very different struggles, then brings them together to help each other. I loved his protagonists. They seemed so real, as if you might pass them in the street. I enjoyed his focusing on the working classes – there’s not a princess or a duchess in sight. The heroes are ordinary children with extraordinary talents. Their fantastical story seems quite real.
            There may be magic in this world, there may not be. Certainly the showy psychic appears in tune with the other realms as she claims. And what exactly is her faithful bodyguard? It is insinuated that the green violin has an unearthly enchanting power, but it could simply be the deft skill of the young street musician. And the ancient automaton the apprentice brings to life – what makes it tick? Matthew Kirby leaves the reader in suspense – is there magic here? Or just human skill and mechanics? In a way, not having a solid, tangible explanation is extremely annoying. Yet at the same time, it does leave open a sense of wonder, a sense that anything is possible, and that is a marvelous thing for a piece of young adult literature to contain.
            I like the way Mr. Kirby does not sugarcoat danger. Machinery is dangerous. Families fall on hard times. Cruel people traffic children and exploit them in slavery. There are several points at which the characters are in dire danger, and the reader is truly afraid they might die.
            I give The Clockwork Three four gears out of five. It is an excellent adventure for a brave young adult (or not-so-young adult).


Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,

Penny J. Merriweather