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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

(The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  18,803 ratings  ·  2,999 reviews
1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable ev ...more
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA (first published July 2nd 2015)
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  • The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
    The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
    Release date: May 03, 2016
    DOUBLE GIVEAWAY: Win a copy of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street AND an early copy of the new sequel, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow!


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    Average rating 3.71  · 
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    Start your review of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, #1)
    Robin Hobb
    Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
    This is a tale that unfolds with the ticking precision of a fine timepiece. It doesn't hurry and it doesn't compromise. It definitely conveyed to me a feeling of a different time and a slightly different world.

    The hardback itself is a lovely creation, with a keyhole cover, and a lovely font used throughout. The cover feels like suede. I mention this because it harmonizes so well with the atmosphere of the book. It feels as if I've picked up a book from another time and place.
    Sean Gibson
    Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it
    Generally speaking, I’m fully on board with genre-defying/genre-bending works. Is this historical fiction? Steampunk? Mystery? Alternate history? Romance? Yes, sort of, a little, kind of, and yeah, sure. ("It's a taste treat! It's a laxative! Stop--you're BOTH right!")

    Where I tend to start losing the thread and incur cramping of the cerebellum (which is only slightly less painful than a calf cramp in the middle of the night) is when time travel gets involved. Now, there’s not time tr
    Blake Fraina
    Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    All right, all you Sherlock Holmes fangirls, listen up.

    What would you think of a version where “Sherlock” is a petite clairvoyant Japanese samurai/watchmaker with a Lincolnshire accent? And what if his “Watson” is a twenty-five year old Whitehall telegraph clerk who gave up his musical aspirations due to an acute case of synesthesia? And “Mary Watson” is an Oxford educated scientist with a butch haircut, a penchant for dressing in menswear and a Japanese dandy for a best friend? Thin
    Darth J
    DNF @ page 42

    What’s Morse Code for “Boring”?

    With its interesting premise and V.C. Andrewslike hole-in-the-cover gimmick, I thought I would be really into this book. Spoiler Alert: I wasn’t.

    I searched for a plot between the pretentious overdescriptive details of random objects, but sadly there still didn’t seem to be anything actually going on. At 40 pages in, you’d expect to at least be able to remember characters but I couldn’42
    May 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: arc, 2015
    I received this advanced reading copy from the publisher with no requirement of review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

    2.5 stars

    I think this book has so much potential. It follows Nathaniel ("Thaniel") Steepleton who works in the Home Office in London after he mysteriously receives a pocket watch that ends up saving his life. He meets the watchmaker, Mori, as well as precocious, intellectual woman named Grace, and all of their stories come together to *sort of* solve a mystery.

    I say "/>2.5
    Hannah Greendale
    Sep 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
    I pity every booklover who unwittingly falls for the beautiful cover art and enticing story description as I did. The story is written in such a convoluted, amateur fashion, it requires significant work to stay invested while reading. Further, the story itself is incredibly dull and boring; in fact, the book seems void of any plot whatsoever.

    I tried to plod through the book, eventually resorting to reading one chapter a day, then one chapter a week, but it was a grueling business. Often, I fini
    Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
    This one started so slowly I really was not sure where it was leading. I quickly became attached to Thaniel who obviously had hidden depths. I loved Mori who also had to be so much more than he appeared.
    Then the story progressed and the author seemed to gather confidence and it all became very enjoyable, but mostly by the reader who enjoys magic and /or steampunk in their books. I like both so I knew I was in for a good time!
    Just occasionally the author rambled a bit but all things e
    Wart Hill
    Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley, arc2015
    Things I Find While Shelving

    I received a free ARC via NetGalley

    ARC Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

    I did not enter this book expecting a gorgeous love story.

    But I got one.

    And damn is it good.

    Thaniel works as a telegraphist in the Home Office and there've been a series of threats made by Irish nationalists - bomb threats. One night, Thaniel finds a strange watch has been left in his home. A watch that he cannot get to open./>I
    May 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
    Shelves: fantasy
    This book was written by a first time author which I was excited about. I usually enjoy reading books by newcomers because I feel as if I'm discovering them, myself, and can tell everyone about them. Their debut novels are often special enough for them to fight to get them published without a proven track record. And this book looked as if it would meet my expectations with its beautiful three dimensional cover and its intriguing premise.

    The story takes place in Victorian England where Thaniel,
    Absolutely loved this book.

    An intricate maze of clockwork that spirals out with easy charm until you see the greater picture.

    Characters are complex, charming yet flawed. And there's a clockwork octopus! (that might have been what convinced me to buy!)

    Grace who would be the heroine of another book, so clever, held back by her gender, yet she has a Sherlockian disregard of people and lacks romance in her mathamatical soul.
    Matsumoto, sharp beneath his pretty veneer.
    Quiet Mor(that
    Ivonne Rovira
    May 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
    Recommends it for: Golden Compass fans
    Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
    In mid-1880s London, both Nathaniel “Thaniel” Steepleton, a 25-year-old lowly clerk and telegraphist first at the Home Office and then at the Foreign Office, and Grace Carrow, opinionated Oxford-trained physicist and daughter of old-fashioned Lord Carrow, both end up with a marvel of a timepiece. Both of these watches were lovingly crafted by a most unusual watchmaker, Keita Mori, related to a Samurai lord and a former assistant to the interior minister of Japan. These days Mori creates the fine ...more
    Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: magical-realism
    A whimsical, difficult-to-classify, atmospheric, speculative novel of the kind I haven’t read in years but which I was ultimately (surprisingly) pleased was suggested in one of my reading groups. I felt a slight whiff of The Night Circus, a tiny hint of steampunk and the suggestion of inspiration from Philip Pullman. And yet the novel is entirely original.

    The setting: Victorian London, and Japan.

    The characters: a young telegrapher called Thaniel, a Japanese watchmaker called Mo
    Elise (TheBookishActress)
    This is a strange and very wonderful book about making clocks, the future, and also love in the 1850s.

    The Watchmaker of Filigree Street follows Thaniel, a local clerk who finds a watch on his person. When this watch alerts him of a bomb about to go off, his suspicions lead him to Mori, a Japanese clockmaker who is strangely kind to him.

    Pretty cool setup, right? We don’t get a strong sense of Thaniel right off the bat; Mori, meanwhile, comes off as ambiguous but always strangely likeable. There is al
    Katie Lumsden
    Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 5-stars
    Quite possibly my favourite book of the year so far. Brilliant writing, wonderful characterisation, great themes, a perfect balance of realism and a touch of magic, and a healthy mix of Victorian London and 19th century Japan.
    Dannii Elle
    This book was a total cover boy, a few years ago, and then I added it to my shelves and never felt the urge to pick it up again. A recent purge of my shelves had me re-evaluating many of the titles there, however, and finally hastened me to give this a read. I am SO glad I did!

    I had assumed this to be a straight-forward historical mystery but was pleasantly surprised to also find this a whimsical cross-cultural tale with a hefty dose of magical realism and murky steampunk tones, thro
    Jacob Overmark
    Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
    Tic toc, tic toc …

    A lot of mechanic refinery and Japanese culture mixed up with politics and a bachelor clerk.
    I almost like the idea of strings of coincidences leading to a certain reaction, whether it be a bomb blast or the meeting of strangers.
    Well written and the storyline is following its own strange logic – that is when you are able to jump to conclusions which will depend on not too frequent change of minds by the personae.

    But … having a hyper sensitive Japanese clockmaker run the drama by his extraordinary cl
    Mary Robinette Kowal
    Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
    It is 4:45am and I have just finished this astonishingly good novel. I knew nothing about it other than that it had a lovely cover, and that the first page was beautifully written. It's historical fantasy, set in London and Japan. The language is vivid and compelling. The characters are achingly real. I could tell you about the plot, but I think you will like it best if you discover it yourself.

    Just make sure you have plenty of spare time, because it is very hard to put down.
    Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
    This was described to me as a wittier and twistier Sherlock Holmes (with a samurai! With that awesome cover! When will I ever learn that the old adage about not judging a book actually means something?), and I'm disappointed to say that it didn't live up to its potential at all. It was confusing, disjointed, the dialogue felt clunky and awkward, and I felt that the characters deserved a better story.

    But at least the clockwork octopus was amazing. Fuller review to come eventually.
    Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
    This was a nice meandering tale but when I finished the book it all felt a little pointless. We follow Thanial, a working class man in London in a fictional 1880s setting. He finds a watch, and soon meets the man who created it, a Japanese watchmaker living in South Kensington. They strike up an odd friendship.

    Separately we meet Grace, an Oxford educated physicist who doesn't want to meet a man and settle down, all she wants is to continue a career in a time where women weren't encou
    Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
    I was intrigued by the title; I was intrigued by the synopsis;I was smitten with the design of the whole thing.

    Could a debut novel live up to all of that?

    Yes, it could!

    The story opens in London, and in a world that mixes the real and the fantastical in the loveliest of ways.

    Nathaniel Steepleton – Thaniel – was a young telegraph operator at the Home Office. His life was a dull routine; he had wanted to be a pianist, but he took job so that he could
    K.J. Charles
    Mph. This was well written and I was really enjoying it. Lovely sense of time, stroppy unlikeable heroine, interesting steampunky 'science' without too much annoying airship bobbins and a great concept. But I do wish there had been a proper plot--it just kind of evaporated towards the end, leaving me with a sense that there's less to this than meets the eye.

    Also, there are multiple problematic issues with the Japanese elements (and also just stupid ones. A sequence where someone who doesn't spe
    Maria Hill AKA MH Books
    There were problems with the plot in places, I think it suffered from “too many cooks/authors” syndrome, in that the author may have taken too much advice from too many people and that it shows? I don’t know why I think this, it’s just an impression I have.

    However most importantly this is a rollicking good story! I enjoyed it immensely, an almost magical clockwork pet octopus, foreseeing the probable future, clockwork bombs, is he a villain or a hero and if so can we be friends or mo
    Okay, just give me a minute to get my thoughts in order. What a whirlwind ending!

    Can I start by talking about the cover? Covers so rarely rate with me but this one is simply stunning. I'll admit - it's the sole reason I picked this book up in the first place. Beautiful design.


    It's a bit of a random story but I really enjoyed it! There's this fellow, Thaniel, who is stuck in a bit of a dead end job. He's a nice enough guy but is very routine and the highligh
    Althea Ann
    Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
    Thaniel Steepleton is an unassuming British public servant. Once, he had dreams of becoming a pianist, but now he has to support his distant, widowed sister's family, so he's tied to his job as a telegraph operator, and doesn't expect anything in his rather dull and ascetic life to change.

    However, an anonymous gift of a clearly valuable watch becomes suspicious when it ends up saving him from an Irish terrorist group's bomb. Soon, he's assigned to spy on Keita Mori, a Japanese watchm
    Emma Flanagan
    Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
    Every now and again a book turns up that appears to be everywhere in Goodreads and the blog world. In the past month or so, this was one such book. When I saw it come up on a special offer I thought sure lets give it a go.

    Honestly I have no idea why this book has been so popular recently or is getting rated so highly. It started off interesting enough, though honestly from the beginning I never felt hooked. It went down hill from there. My impressions was the author had a somewhat good idea but
    Olga Godim
    Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
    4.5 stars
    It is hard to pigeonhole this book. Literary? I’m not sure. Historical? Kind-of. It does deal with a historical period. Steampunk? Not really, even though the characters have some paranormal abilities, and the Victorian era adds credibility to such a label. The closest I can come up with is magic realism.
    Magic shimmers on the pages of this book. It defines the story and the protagonists. And the attraction of this book for me was definitely magical, as I don’t usually like literary or hi
    Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: stars-4-0, 2016
    London mid 1880s, clockwork automata, possible clairvoyance and Japanese culture - what’s not to love? Pulley’s debut uses the typical elements of steampunk mixed with original aspects in an entertaining tale.

    The narration although slow at the beginning grabbed me due to the characters, which the author made complex and intriguing. We’re at first introduced to Thaniel Steepleton, bored synesthete (sounds are colours to him) telegraphist at the Home Office, who one day finds an intric
    Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    There were times when the writing felt perhaps a bit too subtle and elusive for all of the beats of the story to really land, but in the end there were surprising emotional moments and interesting twists that grounded it for me and ticked up my rating a notch. Definitely original and fascinating stuff in this book.
    Jacoline Maes
    Oct 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    It’s a shame that such an interesting concept is reduced to a story that’s just boring. There’s a mechanic octopus walking around and I don’t even care.
    Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: fantasy, historical
    My initial reaction was: not a lot happened until the end, but I was okay with it because the ending was sort of spectacular and also ambiguous and I still haven't drawn any firm conclusions.

    But then I thought about it and, actually... Quite a bit did happen in the beginning. A lot of it was lost/forgotten in the larger mystery of things.

    First, the characters: Nathaniel ('Thaniel) Steepleton is a telegraphist and pianist working for the Home Office in Victorian London.

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    Natasha Pulley is a British author, best known for her debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street , which won a Betty Trask Award.

    Other books in the series

    The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (2 books)
    • The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, #2)
    “Your science can save a man’s life, but imagination makes it worth living.” 54 likes
    “Everybody, professors and students and Proctors the same, knew that if the sign said 'do not walk on the grass', one hopped. Anybody who didn't had failed to understand what Oxford was.” 43 likes
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