The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
Basia rates it: 3.75/5
I did a write-up for Filigree (as Connor and I have been referring to it when talking about posts) while I was still reading it, but I thought I would circle back around now that I’ve finished and give a more comprehensive review.
This was a strange book, and I came out of reading it much the same way that I did the movie Krampus: it definitely wasn’t bad, and I would also say that it was good, but it also exists in a weird tenuous space between the two.
My struggle with Filigree is that I kept forgetting to read it. Normally, when I’m reading a book, even if it’s a book I don’t feel compelled to devour, I have the urge to finish, because I hate leaving things undone. I’ll make time to curl up in my favorite armchair with the book on my knees for at least a few minutes, just enough to get in a chapter or two while I have my tea. But I found I wasn’t doing that with Filigree.
It is, as I said before, a quiet sort of book, but while that was part of its charm, I feel like it also might have worked against it in some ways. I’d think about reading, would have to think about what I was currently reading, and then I would remember Filigree and that I had yet to finish it. Sometimes I would pick it up, and other times I wouldn’t. I always had to make a conscious effort to remember to read it.
Another reason I think the overall tone might have worked against the book was I was finally at the book’s climax, but I felt no urgency. I am sure I was meant to–the events unfolding were crazy and tumultuous–but I couldn’t muster the appropriate feelings. This is not to say that I didn’t care about the characters, because I did. But I also found I cared more about the secondary characters than the three protagonists; in some ways, I felt that they had a bit more substance to them, like I knew their personalities better.
I didn’t feel relief when I was finished with the book, because the overall story was an interesting one and I truly did want to know what happened, but I also didn’t experience any of the usual things I feel when I finish a book. It was simply over, and I could finally move on to something else.
Filigree was a good book, but a strange one. I am glad I read it, but I can’t see myself ever picking it up for a reread. It is certainly not a book for everyone. But if you’re willing to give it a try, I hope that you, like myself, are at least charmed by the little clockwork octopus that has a penchant for stealing socks and hiding in drawers.