Copyright 1996, Arthur A. Levine Books
107 pages, fantasy
One winter night in a small German village, a group of townspeople has gathered to hear a story from the local writer/storyteller, Fritz. Among these folks is a despondent clockmaker’s apprentice called Karl who failed to complete his final project and is certain he’ll never be a master clockmaker. When Fritz begins reading his story, which started out as an innocent, entertaining yarn, its plot and characters spin out of control until, in this town, the line between fantasy and reality is hardly there at all.
Firstly, I didn’t expect a book so short from Phillip Pullman (the author of the His Dark Materials series as well). Clockwork is hardly over a hundred pages long and has large text and pictures (at least the edition I read does~ the display picture for this post is a different edition).I feel that the story could have been fleshed out a little and expanded into a larger novel.
The concept Clockwork presents, in a fantastical way, is that life and the world is like clockwork, the old-fashioned kind with all of the gears and weights and springs, and can be wound up in a way that suits the user. If you will something to happen, you wind up your fate, and it will turn out just that way. I don’t believe this is true, but it was certainly fun to let go of all of that for the hour or two it takes to read this little tale and just believe!
The characters were well developed and of a great variety. The story was haunting and enchanting, and it’s happy-but-not ending (oops! Is that a spoiler?) seems suiting. The illustrations were dreamlike and detailed, and they matched the book well, although I’m not partial to interior illustrations in books. The switches in the storytelling between Fritz’s creation and the seeming “reality” of the little German town keeps the readers mind working.
The short length of the story, as mentioned earlier, could do with some expansion. Some of the character’s personalities were believable yet unpleasing. And the foreboding cover of the edition I read (see tiny picture below- I couldn’t find a bigger one) doesn’t match well with the thread of warmth that runs through the plot.
Rating: 4/5 stars.