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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

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1888. Five years after they met in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Thaniel Steepleton, an unassuming translator, and Keita Mori, the watchmaker who remembers the future, are traveling to Japan. Thaniel has received an unexpected posting to the British legation in Tokyo, and Mori has business that is taking him to Yokohama.

Thaniel's brief is odd: the legation staff have been seeing ghosts, and Thaniel's first task is to find out what's really going on. But while staying with Mori, he starts to experience ghostly happenings himself. For reasons Mori won't--or can't--share, he is frightened. Then he vanishes.

Meanwhile, something strange is happening in a frozen labor camp in Northern Japan. Takiko Pepperharrow, an old friend of Mori's, must investigate.

As the weather turns bizarrely electrical and ghosts haunt the country from Tokyo to Aokigahara forest, Thaniel grows convinced that it all has something to do with Mori's disappearance--and that Mori may be in serious danger.

512 pages, ebook

First published February 18, 2020

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About the author

Natasha Pulley

8 books2,333 followers
Natasha Pulley is a British author, best known for her debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street , which won a Betty Trask Award.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 932 reviews
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 283 books96.9k followers
January 31, 2020
The usual caveat: I received this book free as an advance reading copy from the publisher. I do not think that prevents me from giving an honest review.

Another caveat: While this book can stand alone, I believe one should read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street before diving into The Lost Future of Pepperharrow.

This story takes place a handful of years after the events related in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

Most of the events take place in 1888 and in a Japan that almost might have existed. Ether theory is still taken very seriously. Electricity is in its rebellious adolescent years. Russia, Japan and the UK are flexing some muscle at one another. And in the midst of this, Thaniel, a civil servant who excels at translating Japanese and operating a telegraph key and composing music, is dispatched to the British legation in Japan to deal with reports of ghosts wreaking havoc with the staff there.

If you think of a book as the sum of its ingredients, rather like a cake from a recipe, you will already see that you probably have not seen these elements combined before, in quite this way.

Now add a clairvoyant samurai. And Six, a precocious and peculiar child rescued from the workhouse. Stir in a clockwork octopus.

Now you all know that I despise spoilers, so that is as much as I'm going to say about the actual plot or ingredients of the book.

I'm going to mention instead something I really liked. The author uses very vernacular English in the dialogue between Japanese characters in the late 1800's. At first, it puzzled me and put me a bit off stride. So, I suggest that before diving in, the reader leaf to the back of the book and read the explanation for her choice of language. It fascinated me and added a very nice dimension to the story.

This is a book that demands your close attention to detail. And the title of the book is absolutely perfect for it.

That's all I'm going to say. If you read Filigree Street and enjoyed it, don't deny yourself the pleasure of this one.

Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,159 reviews2,007 followers
June 21, 2021
I often find it much harder to write a review about a good book than I do a bad one. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is, to my mind, pretty near perfect so I am struggling for some suitable comments to make. Anyway I will try.

Firstly, do not read this without reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street first. You need the context and you need to already love the characters before fully appreciating the events of the second book. Thaniel and Mori's relationship is easier to understand when you know their history.

Secondly, do you enjoy magical realism and mystical settings. The author uses nineteenth century Japan for this book with Samurai, great Houses, nightingale floors and paper walls, and snow. Lots and lots of snow. Reading it made me want to curl up in front of a big log fire to stay warm.

I loved how we discovered more about Mori's special talent and how he tried to use it to save thousands of people's lives but especially one. I thought Thaniel in particular shone in this book and little Six played a major role too. I cried (happy tears) when Thaniel and Mori had one particular little conversation towards the end of the book.

The ending wrapped up all the details and there was even a reference to Merrick and his house in Cornwall (The Bedlam Stacks). Another of her books which I loved! Now I have to wait for her to write something else. When she does I guarantee I will be at the front of the queue to buy it!
Profile Image for Mary Robinette Kowal.
Author 234 books4,751 followers
November 7, 2019
Dear God, I loved this book. I read it in ARC. Go pre-order it now and just trust me.

It's a sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, which I also loved, but I think you can read it as a standalone.

Look, the voice in this is so strong. Each character feels vividly real. I love what she does with... a lot. But in particular, I love her handling of Six. This little girl is so clearly loved by her adopted fathers as she is. She's also, to a modern eye, clearly autistic but they don't have the words for that. Rather than trying to change her, they let her be herself. Understand, this isn't a plot point in the book. It's just her existing and being allowed to be in a book and be part of the adventure.

I love all the relationships, in fact. I love the kindness that people show to each other, even when they are being horrible. I love the sense of place and the atmospheric details.

And the structure. I'm not going to tell you, but when you figure out what she's doing it's just brilliant.

I cried multiple times. Buy this book.
Profile Image for luce (tired and a little on edge).
1,417 reviews3,420 followers
August 27, 2021
| | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | |

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is a somewhat disappointing followup to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.
Having really enjoyed The Watchmaker of Filigree Street I was really looking forward to be reunited with Thaniel and Mori.

Within the first chapters I had a slight sense of deja vu. The main difference between this sequel and its predecessor is the setting: whereas The Watchmaker of Filigree Street took place in London, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow whisks us to an alternate-history Japan. Backdrop aside, these two novels have almost identical storylines. Mori is up to something and he won't share the details of what he is up to with Thaniel. There is a woman who is 'ahead of her times' and she doesn't trust Mori. Thaniel is confused, we are confused, everyone is pretty much confused. Suprise, suprise, Mori was acting out of love.
The narrative struck me as confusing for the sole purpose of being confusing (in this aspect it frustrated me as much as The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle). Much of what occurs could have been avoided if Thaniel and Mori had an actual conversation but their few interactions were brief and superficial. Pepperharrow was just as unlikable as Grace. Much is made of her (she is different from other women) but to me she was merely aggravating (in her insisting that Mori is evil, in blaming him for everything, in her alliance with an actual murderer).
The story drags on and on, following a growingly desperate Thaniel as he tries to navigate Japanese customs and politics.
While I understand that Pulley wanted to distinguish formal from informal Japanese, part of me found the use of swearwords to be an ill suited stylistic choice.
Most of the female characters are annoying, the men are either hapless or arrogant...and the suspense felt forced.
Although the plotline unfolded in predictable manner there were so many confounding elements that I sort of lost interest in the story. Thaniel and Mori, characters I loved in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, were rather shadows of themselves.
The longer I'm making this review and the more I realise how much I actually did not like this book.
The only aspect I liked was the portrayal of a cultural divide between the united kingdom and Japan (their different traditions, languages, social norms etc.). Other than that...there wasn’t much I liked.

Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 1 book2,701 followers
June 26, 2022
An absolute triumph. Natasha Pulley has done it again. Magnetic, clever, atmospheric and moving, this is a truly wonderful novel, and a worthy sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street!

Just as good on a reread.
26 reviews
Shelved as 'remember'
March 7, 2019
Thank Neptune, Katsu is back <3 Don't think I was ever so devastated over the 'death' of any fictional character... ever.
Oh, excited about the rest of the book, too ;)
Profile Image for Dawn F.
494 reviews67 followers
July 22, 2020
***Re-read with a group of friends on Skype during Covid-19. As with the prequel, reading it with friends is just much more enjoyable and entertaining. I haven’t laughed this much in ages, just listening to our different opinions. And I still love this universe to death***

I struggle to find words how to decsribe this, because to say that I loved it is too little. I’m utterly, unequivocally in love with Natasha Pulley’s delicate, affecting, melancholy writing, with her universe of clockwork and mystery and wonder, with Thaniel and Mori who have stolen my heart so completely and make my insides ache. Not to mention Katsu, the mechanical, sock stealing, pet octopus who thankfully survived from book one, and Six, Thaniel’s adopted daughter, now a clever nine year old who I’m pretty sure is neurodivergent, though it’s not explicitly stated.

One thing I love about her way of writing is how she isn’t explicit about a great many things, but things are understood between the lines. Her writing style reflects how Mori, who can remember the future, experiences the world, in bits and pieces that may go either way depending on his own choices or that of other people’s, always changing, often in jerky motions, reacting to things before they have happened.

The second book touches more on how Mori’s ability, or condition (or curse), affects him, and it’s quite often... difficult. And complicated. Pulley writes angst and tension like no other, but she is also a writer you can trust to pull you through safely. It’s been my experience with all of her three books.

On that note let me say that even though Bedlam Stacks is a separate book, it takes place in the same universe as the Watchmaker novels, so you really really ought to not skip that one, not just because of reasons I can’t mention, but also because it’s just as lovely and adorable and touching an magical as anything else she has her hand in.

Honestly, I’ve been a fan since The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and I will just never get over her books, okay?
Profile Image for Phee.
555 reviews58 followers
April 20, 2020
It was only after I had finished the book and sat and thought on it for a few minutes, that I realized what the fucking title means. I knew what it meant but I didn't realise that I knew what it meant. That makes no sense does it.

The sequel to the dazzling The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street ultimately didn't shine as brightly as it's predecessor. Despite all the electricity in this one. If you enjoyed book one then there is not much that you'll find to dislike here. However, if you fucking loved book one, like I did, then you might well be a little underwhelmed.
That's not to say it was a massive disappointment by any means, fours stars is nothing to sneeze at especially for a sequel. But there were certain elements that made me, miss the magic of the first one.
Also don't ready the blurb! I think it gives far too much away.

It still has Thaniel being a smushy loved up mess, It still has Mori being... well Mori, it even has a certain clockwork octopus. It's still that beautiful blend of historical fiction, mixed with fantastical mystery, mixed again with the hint of a romance. I didn't overly mind that this was a pretty similar book to the first one in the way it panned out. To be honest I'd read any number of stories set in this world with these characters. Also the narrator did a fabulous Northern accent (Lincolnshire I believe) that made my heart swell. The only problem is that listening to someone speak with that accent for any considerable length of time brings out the Yorkshire girl in me. My whole family are in strange whispers as to why I've been speaking with a Yorkshire accent the last couple of days!

(Mild spoilers in the next paragraph)
But there are parts that really annoyed me. The main one being that if Mori and Thaniel had simply told each other how they felt, then it would have solved most of the issues in this book. Things went so drastically wrong because Mori couldn't plan as meticulously as normally would, the future that Mori was seeing was so vague. It was so vague because Thaniel decided that we wasn't going to ask Mori about their relationship because it was easier to live with not knowing just in case Mori didn't love him back. But Mori had never mentioned how he felt, or actively instigated any of the tender moments between him and Thaniel because he assumed that Thaniel was just agreeing to the whole arrangement so he could have a free room. He didn't want to get his hopes up that Thaniel might actually have feelings for him too. Let sleeping dogs lie and all that.
*Breathes deeply*

It so annoying when characters don't say how they feel. I guess we wouldn't have much of second book though if they had just spoken about their undying love for one another. Also it is an absolute shame that there were so few moments between these two in the entire book. If I had to of waited years for this book like some people did then I would have probably thrown the book against the wall for its lack interaction. Luckily for both my hardback and my bedroom wall, I only had to wait a couple of weeks.

Another matter that annoyed me which was ultimately more important was that while it was nice to have a detailed back story for Mori, it did kind of ruin the mysterious element to him. Part of the wonder in the magic is not knowing how it is done. I loved that the first book didn't go very far in explaining how Mori's power worked. It left me to wonder and think. It made me keep thinking about the story. Sometimes it's better to not explain every little detail. It made Mori more human, which sounds silly because he is human, but still.
Part of what I loved so much about him was how similar he is written to The Fool in Robin Hobb's Realm of The Elderlings. The best part about The Fool's character is that you don't know anything about him, not even his gender (though male pronouns are used in the books, hence me using them here). Prophets are meant to be otherworldly and magical, that's the point.

I'm so glad this book exists, as I said I could read these stories for ever. Given how this book ended, I don't think there will be more. I hope there is, I really do. But ultimately it felt like this tied up the story. I will definitely be reading the Bedlam Stacks and anything else Natasha Pulley writes. I think the talent on show here is mesmerising and any fan of historical fiction should give her a hearty try. You might just find a clockwork octopus stealing your socks, or better yet, your heart.
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,049 reviews806 followers
March 8, 2020
I don’t tolerate you. I can’t breathe when you’re not here, I can’t think, I can’t write music properly, I spend my whole bloody life waiting for the post. I never said because I thought you didn’t want to hear it. We don’t talk about – any of that.

On my blog.

Rep: mlm mc with synesthaesia, Japanese mlm mc, autistic side character, Japanese characters and setting

Galley provided by publisher

Hubris is thinking you are ready to write a review of a book that absolutely gutted you mere days after reading it. You are not ready. Honestly, you will probably never be ready. So, hubris it is.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow takes us out of England and all the way to Japan, where the Prime Minister is conducting some highly suspicious research that requires Mori for some reason. Furthermore, Thaniel finds himself investigating a number of hauntings reported by staff at the British Legation.

Natasha Pulley has pretty much cornered the market on quietly magical books. She did it in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and The Bedlam Stacks, and she’s done it again here. It’s a combination of the utter gorgeousness of her writing, and the magic and mystery evoked by it. It’s the sort of writing that makes you want to go back and read the whole thing over again, just to catch a little more of that magic. Actually, it makes you want to go back and read every single thing written by the author.

Second to the magic as my favourite thing (but very very close second) are the characters. If you loved them in Watchmaker, you will love them immeasurably more in this book, while also having your heart shattered into a million pieces by them. I know because that’s exactly what happened to me reading this. Not to mention the characters you want to see together are actually separated for a good chunk of the book. It’s basically a recipe for having your heart ripped out your chest.

And then the end happens and all you’re left with is the desperate need to go back and live in that world all over again.
Profile Image for Kate.
284 reviews140 followers
March 7, 2020
Have you ever finished a book and it gives you whiplash? You are all immersed in it, you're ride or die with the characters, plot, and writing style, and then it ends and you feel like you went from 70mph to hitting a tree and the airbags just hit you in the gut and you're laying there confused about what to do now in life?

Yeah that was me with this one.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow has all the mystery and eerie magical realism that Pulley's other books do. I think out of all of them Pepperharrow is the weirdest, but that's what I love about it. Her character's are alway 3-dimensional and I always end up loving them, even the ones I think I'll hate forever. She has an unique style of writing where I am unable to really go into detail about her books without making it feel like I am spoiling the whole story. Everything ties together so well that just picking at one piece doesn't do the story justice.

I will forever love Thaniel, Keita, Six, and Katsu. I wish there was a book three, but I can't imagine after all that happened in this that there will be.

July 2019-
Yes: A cover! :)
No: The release date has been moved to 5 months later. :(

Nov 2018-
I don't think I can explain how much I need this. Mori and Thaniel in Japan, meeting Mori's family who are just like, "You left our influential family, became a watchmaker, and sail to England for him?", and Thaniel pretending he isn't fluent in Japanese. Yeah, I need this.
Profile Image for Sara Saif.
543 reviews220 followers
March 9, 2020

Discovering that this book existed was akin to receiving a much hoped and desperately longed for present. I could not believe my eyes. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is one of my all time favorites. It's one of those delightful books you're too awed by and never fully understand. But it was magical, and it cast a bubble of transportation around me, so that I felt myself inside it and saw everything as if with my own two eyes.

TLFOP explores Mori's origins and his powers in a manner that was more detailed and satisfactory than in the previous book, which was all I really wanted. The scope and scale of it were bigger as well; it all got too muddled up at one point and I missed that ambience of the first book, but it wasn't too bad.

Six was obnoxious, Takiko Pepperharrow deserved some kind of closure with Mori, a clear acknowledgment, perhaps, and Thaniel was his usual mushy self. I like the way characters are written and their emotions portrayed in these books. It's a wonderful mix of peculiar and intriguing.

Even though the end result was significant, I rather felt that all that manipulating and grand-scale scheming was overly elaborate for it.

While I evidently need to read this book and its sequel at least twice more to fully appreciate everything, this time around, things didn't go over my head as much as they did in TWOFS.
Hoping this gets more sequels!

Profile Image for Lou (nonfiction fiend).
2,771 reviews1,616 followers
March 4, 2020
The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, the sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, is Natasha Pulley’s third novel and one of the most exquisite works of historical fiction I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Once again Ms Pulley showcases her immense storytelling talent and writes with a devastatingly deft hand. I would highly recommend reading the preceding book beforehand as you will better understand the characters' motivations and why they developed to be how they currently are. This time we journey from smog-filled 19th century London to Tokyo, Japan with Thaniel Steepleton and his adopted daughter, Six, to meet up with clairvoyant watchmaker Keita Mori and to consult with the staff at the British Legation who have begun to experience a number of hauntings. Meanwhile, the Russians have a fleet of ships of the coast of Nagasaki that could be about to invade the country at any moment. And then all hell breaks loose as Mori disappears without a trace.

This is a refreshingly original and unique tale and is historical fiction infused with elements of fantasy, magic and love. From the very beginning, the writing grips you and easily holds you captive until your time between the covers is over. My only gripe was that it ended much too soon. The characters are developed beautifully and are engaging to read about and see evolve; they are so vivid and richly imagined that they come alive on the page. It is full of whimsical charm, which has become Pulley’s signature, and sets this series apart from similar novels. Pulley spent time in Japan whilst researching The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and uses her knowledge of the customs and locations to pull you into the story as they seemingly reach out and lure you in. It's an enchanting and beguiling read with stunningly lyrical prose that envelops and immerses you with ease. An emotive, elegant and intricate historical fantasy of the finest quality. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for an ARC.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,010 reviews1,406 followers
May 22, 2021
This is the second instalment in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street series.

Thaniel and Mori were two of the most immediately lovable characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about and I am so glad Pulley allowed the readers to journey on another adventure, alongside them. This instalment saw the duo leave the smog-laden air of London far behind as they ventured to Japan. Mori proved as mysterious as ever and Thaniel as determined to unearth the truths his reticent partner was keeping from him.

I adored this seamless blend of alternate history and delightful whimsy alongside extraordinary feats of steampunk creation and a focus on the political and technological advancements they heralded. Each of these elements brought something to the story that left the overall vibe of the book as something inexplicable, indescribable, and entirely of Pulley's own.
Profile Image for Susan.
348 reviews20 followers
July 8, 2020
I've actually read this now ppl who dont know what they're talking about can stop commenting on my review.

I'll write a PROPER one later but: gorgeous, stunning, Mori and Thaniel invented love.

I need a third book. A novella series. a n y t h i n g
Profile Image for Rhian Pritchard.
364 reviews69 followers
March 10, 2020
I forgot how much I love the way Natasha writes, especially because our customers tend to be so Marmite about it. I understand why it doesn't work for some readers but I fall hard on the 'oh fuck I love what this does to me' side. It's full of detail and winding, to the point where about a hundred pages in I was getting to the 'okay Thaniel's just whining now, and while it's justified, it's still just whining' and then I had a Rebecca moment because DUH I should have trusted Natasha but I'm very much a surface reader and the plot had been rolling up momentum underneath the whole time. Damn. It is, appropriately, like winding up a clock. Or a bomb. There's definitely a plot moment you hit where you're like 'OH SHIT JUST HIT THE FAN'. It's great. Also sorry Thaniel you're not annoying you've very cleverly written .
I totally get why some people don't like books where they have to pay attention to every detail and have to accept that they haven't got a clue where things are going (especially if maybe it feels like the author doesn't know). I'm also usually not a super-fan of reliable narrators mostly because I'm a bit too trusting by nature and when it turns out the narrator was wrong about something I'm like 'well this plot is unbelievable obviously'. Thankfully Natasha avoids that particular pitfall by... I don't know, some kind of author-y magic? Anyway personally I love how so many little details and notes seem to just be there because they're interesting and then turn out to be super relevant. Reading anything where an author is so clearly interested in their subject is such an honest joy, and reading a book where Japan especially is written by a white person as an outsider - from the perspective of a white person as an outsider - and done with such an obvious attempt at respect and honesty is depressingly refreshing.
It's extremely weird knowing an author though and I couldn't help but read sections in Natasha's voice at first, which is so difficult as a reader to get past - the fact that I stopped seeing where she'd put herself into her characters and stopped wondering where the plot was going and just let it take me is the ultimate win of the pass/fail test. I'm fully willing to stand beside my statement that every single book she writes is just getting better, and I wish I didn't have to wait to long between them so I don't have time to forget to trust her and her style.
I also loved that we got way more insight into Mori. There wasn't as much page time as I'd expected but there was SO much more character development and I would sell my soul for good character development, especially when it's plot-crucial. I would probably also sell my soul and maybe three thousand bags of lightbulbs for Six. And Katsu - so much Katsu time!! I would scream about other new characters too but I'm aware this isn't published until March and it won't just be my colleagues who have proofs reading this so I will hold off.
One of my favourite moments that I hadn't even realised I was hoping for was a tiny tiny nod right at the very end and I was like HELL YEAH and I'm not going to spoil it but yes there will be many many happy readers about three pages from the end.
TLDR; Like all Natasha's books, this is at heart a fun steampunk-style magical realism romp based around an incredibly original ideas presented against a meticulously-researched historical background, with incredible characters, emotional depth, and genius subtle plot engineering that explodes into clarity at climax. It also may be the gayest book so far. Huge points in favour of that.
Final note (for now): these are going to look so dumb lined up on my shelf, paperback-hardback-proof, but damn the colours are going to look good. Nice job, designers.
Profile Image for Cadiva.
3,276 reviews299 followers
January 17, 2021
I'm not sure just quite how to review this book.

It's such a complex narrative, wrapping a number of different threads together to create a rich mix of historical fiction with a steampunk style and a quiet bit of queer romance.

There's no spoilers here, it would utterly ruin the beautiful way Natasha Pulley's sequel to the truly brilliant The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, slowly gives up its secrets.

My heart was in my mouth on many occasions. The title itself a nod to a plot line which turns out to be quite heartbreaking in its own way.

Taking events from actual history and intertwining them with the characters of Thaniel and Keito gives the reader a real sense of place, coupled with the almost mystical nature of the electrical experimentation.

While her second book, The Bedlam Stacks was just as beautifully written, it didn't capture me like these two have.

I was so very pleased to be asked to review this one by Bloomsbury and it lived up to all my expectations.

I really hope there's another trip to come which will let the reader linger a while longer with this pair and their adopted daughter Six.

#ARC kindly received from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Damien.
87 reviews1 follower
July 26, 2020
This was... disappointing.

I'm one of those people that would have given 6/5 stars to the first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. I adored it. But this book was a poor sequel. I'll mention a few things:

Plot and pacing were a disaster.
Nothing happens in the first 150/200 pages. It's a meandering story of Mori and Thaniel and Six living their lives in London and then moving to Japan. Yes, we are getting fabulous descriptions of the lingering fog, and 1880's Japan, and Yoruji... but where's the story? Why are we here? I found myself bored in the first half of the novel, and frequently left the book aside between chapters.

It was only once that things started to happen, and I became interested. But even then the plot was very convoluted, and as we drifted from , I found myself thinking "what's this all about, anyway?"

There was potential to create multiple strands of story with Thaniel/Grace/Takiko that all combined into something at the end... but everything was so fragmented. It felt like a book that was written too quickly - if this was allowed to sit in the drawer for a few months and was then revisited and reworked... it could've been heaps better.

Mori OP now
I liked Mori in book one. He could remember the future, it was a simple concept. He knew a lot of things, but he always felt like a grounded character that was 'limited' in his scope. In this book, his clairvoyance seems to be through the roof. Every tiny detail (down to a footstep, a word, a inclination) is meticulously prepared in advance. He is seeing decades of futures and near-infinite possibilities, not just for his own life, but for Japan, London, Russia... he is carefully manipulating thousands of people to do things to lead to other things .

It's too much. It makes him aware of everything at any moment, small things and the bigger picture. He couldn't possibly organise infinite things.

The ghosts
. The more you think about it, the harder it is to find the 'logic' of the idea. What determines what appears from thousands of years of potential ghosts, why only the most plot-relevant stuff?

Thaniel and Mori
After book one, I considered them a happy couple (albeit hiding their relationship from the world). In this book, Mori is distant and cold. A couple of sappy lines in the last 20 pages about how he's shy and afraid Thaniel is just tolerating him is NOT making up for a full book of distance. Their relationship was non-existent for most of this book, the only reference to it was Thaniel's incessant pining for him.

All of their conversations during the book were formal, abrupt and lacking any emotional depth. I don't think they had any proper chat. And quite frankly, there was no reason for Mori NOT to tell Thaniel what was going on beyond plot convenience.

By the end of this book, I actually feel my interest in their relationship to have waned significantly.

Other Points

I like Natasha Pulley, and I think she is an excellent writer. And I like her take on magical realism, and her beautiful descriptions. Oh, and Six was a fantastic character.

But this book needed huge revisions - the plot was all over the place. It saddens me, because I liked Takiko's character and I think it had more potential. Mori's vagueness for 300 pages was not building mystery, it was just irritating. And 150 pages of the beginning could easily be cut, and given to building the story that unfolds later.

Honestly... the book needed a proper plot. I found myself near the end of the book, at thinking "what's even happening anymore, what is the story?"

I'm so disappointed that one of my favourite books has had this poor sequel.
Profile Image for Iona Sharma.
Author 19 books110 followers
March 11, 2020
Shattering, complex, beautifully written, and kind of unbearable. Thaniel Steepleton is dying of tuberculosis; he's been sent by the Foreign Office to the British legation in Tokyo because they can, weirdly, see ghosts; Mori has come with him but is holding him at a distance, for reasons that are unclear but seem sinister. Things get complicated. More than that would spoil a perfect, complex and intricate plot, and also a devastating emotional arc, but this is a spectacular book and probably my best of 2020.
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,424 followers
December 19, 2019
Plotted as intricately as clockwork, this weaves together historical political warfare with electromagnetic science research and magical clairvoyance. The characters are what really makes this sing, though: secretive, morally grey Mori, insecure and devastated Nathaniel and their adopted daugher Six, who is obsessed with electrics, and has autism. I love them all, and would happily read a whole series of their adventures.
Profile Image for Ania.
81 reviews111 followers
April 18, 2022
the second authors will realise that not every fantasy book needs a sequel nature will start healing
Profile Image for Anna.
1,652 reviews616 followers
November 1, 2020
After I realised that reading Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency: War Communism in the Twenty-First Century was making me feel terrible, it was obvious that I should pick an escapist book instead. 'The Lost Future of Pepperharrow' was ideal for the purpose, as well as being apposite for halloween. It returns the reader to the world of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and The Bedlam Stacks, although I found the plot more compelling in this book. It's also more eerie than The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, an aspect I enjoyed very much. I was recently describing the appeal of Pulley's novels to a friend and I think atmosphere is key. Her settings are Victorian with carefully inserted supernatural and fantastical elements and a deliberately casual dialogue style. (Pulley discusses this latter in an afterword.) While plenty of other books have ostensibly similar setups, there is a distinctive strangeness and mystery about Pulley's three novels. I also appreciate her main characters, none of whom are straight white men. 'The Lost Future of Pepperharrow' gradually reveals its secrets, including the meaning of the title. Weirdly enough, the pace and tone reminded me somewhat of Tintin stories. I mean that as a compliment! The depiction of Japan seen through the eyes of a dogged and perceptive European man investigating bizarre happenings was vivid and fascinating. The sections from Takiko's point of view made an excellent contrast. While there are some very striking scenes and I'm fond of the characters, ultimately it was the atmosphere and well-paced plot that made the book a pleasure to read.

I hope Pulley writes more novels set in this particular world, as I very much enjoy exploring it.
Profile Image for thefourthvine.
503 reviews196 followers
June 16, 2020
Natasha Pulley’s writing superpower is to make me not care about the flaws in her books. (And, yes, there always are some.) I’m generally too entranced to care about the problems. That didn’t happen with this book.

A friend of mine said, about a different and far worse book, “the book is bad, but the feelings ... the feelings are good,” and while this book is far from bad, its primary value for me was the feelings. If you like a ton of pining in your pining, and then topped with extra pining, my friend, this is the book for you. Yes, there is also an intricate plot, but frankly it was fairly obvious from the midpoint where that was going and how it would work out. Yes, there are some great new characters, as well as the great old characters, but I’ll get to that in a bit. Mostly, there are feelings. And I did enjoy them QUITE a lot.

Now for what I didn’t enjoy. And these are truly massive spoilers, so read with caution.

So did I enjoy this? Yes, absolutely, and very much. But it is definitely below Pulley’s usual mark, at least for me.
Profile Image for Daniel.
670 reviews43 followers
December 4, 2020
Good! Thaniel and Mori, Six, and even Grace! are back, some years after Watchmaker. Some good new characters also. Don't read this if you haven't read Watchmaker, I think.

This somehow feels both smoother, and less polished than Watchmaker or The Bedlam Stacks. Smoother in the sense of overall story flow and less polished as in more tiny little burrs that I imagine might have been knocked off by more rigorous editing in the earlier books. That's my impression anyway.

The bulk of this one takes place in Japan, which oddly is the source of some of my minor irritations with the book. That is not to say I noticed a bunch of historical errors or anything, honestly my history is too rusty for that. It's more just an artifact of reading conversations in English that are meant to be taking place in Japanese and having some sense of what would have been said in Japanese and the English version not matching the way I would have translated it. And of course I'm not particularly knowledgeable about Victorian English, or versed in Victorian translations of Japanese, so these could well be what someone of that period would have used, but it jarred me nonetheless.

I do have some complaints, but they're spoilery so I won't go into details. Most are about Pepper, who early on looked to be set up for a rather misogynistic parallel of the Grace situation in Watchmaker, but it turned out not to be, and I quite liked her. Even Grace came off better in this one.
Profile Image for Marco Wolf.
279 reviews6 followers
September 15, 2022
Minder sterk vervolg op De horlogemaker van Londen. Het verhaal-verloop is heel langzaam en wordt zelfs binnen de fantasiewereld niet geloofwaardiger. Je moet je echt onderdompelen zonder verder na te denken over de uitleg en losse eindjes. Dan is dit boek lezen een leuk tijdverdrijf.
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