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The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a rich and layered book about the malleability of time. This story jumps back and forth across several different points in time. Each character seems of equal importance, but we discover early on that the main character is the clockmaker’s daughter, Birdie. This is the story of her life and death, sometimes told by her in first person narrative and at others by the people connected to her across time. It is a story of love, loss, and the connection between people and places.
Kate Morton explores that which is impalpable—time, light, ghosts. In one scene Birdie attempts to capture light in a tin, only to discover that light (like time) is elusive. The Clockmaker’s Daughter binds together characters who have experienced loss, have their own ghosts they carry with them. Some of these characters are artists or photographers, forever trying to capture the intangible. Others have experienced the deep ache of loss and are attempting to fill it.
Ar the center of the story is a place, Birchwood Manor. Every single main character has experienced this place, and perceived it to be magical in some way. This place is what connects the characters through the threads of time.
Once these tangled threads have been worked through, Birdie’s story is complete and the confused muddle evaporates.
This is was a deeply moving, meaningful book for anyone who has experienced loss or felt an intense pull towards a particular place or person.
Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing me with a free galley to review.
(***This post may contain affiliate links, meaning at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.***)
Arden’s lyrical and sumptuous debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale, transports readers to medieval Russia. History and folklore blend together seamlessly in this dark fairytale.
The story centers around Vasya, a girl who inherited her grandmother’s magical abilities. She lives with her father, four older siblings, and nurse in the harsh countryside where winter lasts most of the year. The fairy tales her nurse, Dunya, tells are only entertaining stories for everyone but Vasya. She has the ability to see and communicate with the nature and household spirits. Although the others can’t see these spirits, the old Pagan beliefs still linger, and offerings are left for them.
Everything changes when Vasya’s father returns from a visit to Moscow with a new bride, a woman who shares her ability to see the old Gods and spirits. Unlike Vasya, who sees them as friends, Anna perceives them to be evil. The new village priest bands together with Anna in an attempt to stamp out the old Pagan ways, forcing the villagers to ignore the local deities. This has terrible consequences. The once joyful villagers now live in fear, which the evil creature (known as the Bear) thrives on. Dark forces have awoken, the benevolent deities begin to fade away, and Vasya must use her powers to save her village.
This is a book to be savored. The pacing is slow, the main character compelling, and the language utterly enchanting. There were a few story threads that were left unfinished, and one can only hope that these will be explored in the sequel.
”Master of His Fate” is the first book in a new series by the well renowned author of historical fiction, Barbara Taylor Bradford. It centers around James Falconer, and Alexis Malvern. Their two story threads run parallel before seamlessly merging together. This was a character driven novel, set in Victorian London. It explored themes of sex, class, and coming of age. The characters were lovable, if a bit too perfect. This is the perfect “escape from reality” book—as every single main and secondary character were noble, just, and charmingly captivating. There were a few unpleasant incidents, but mainly everything turned out perfect for every character with little to vex them.
The historical details were fascinating, adding a rich layer to the book, and were obviously well thought out. The mention of some famous people of the time also helped bring the book to life.
The initial promise of delving into some vital feminist issues, which are just as valid today, fizzled out. It would have been an important book, rather than just an entertaining one, had these issues and story threads been more fully developed.
“Master of His Fate” was an engaging, richly executed work of historical fiction. I look forward to the next book in the series.
**Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Get Red PR for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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