In Natasha Pulley’s debut novel, magical realism meets Victorian England in a tangled and strangely mesmerizing story of theoretical physics, watchmaking, Japanese history, and the Fenian Brotherhood.
Three central characters rein in the kite strings on these eclectic topics, providing a solid and unified tale of mystery and friendship, whilst investigating the concept of how the future might affect the present, rather than the other way around.
Thaniel Steepleton is a quiet and solitary bachelor who works as a telegraph clerk for the Home Office in London. He receives intelligence concerning a bomb threat by Irish separatists, and on the same evening, he arrives home to find a beautiful gold pocket watch waiting for him on his pillow. Unable to determine who left the gift, or how to even open it, the watch ultimately saves his life by opening and emitting a loud alarm seconds before the exploding Fenian bomb destroys Scotland Yard.
With the watch open, Thaniel is now able to determine that Keita Mori, an expatriate Japanese noble, and mechanical genius, is its creator. Thaniel seeks him out and they become close friends. It soon becomes obvious, though, that a strange prescience surrounds Mori, who has a gift for knowing in advance the likelihood of possible events and their outcome.
Grace Carrow sees Mori’s genius as a means of unlocking the mysteries of luminiferous Ether, the focus of her studies at Oxford University, but as the lives of these three individuals become intricately entwined, she begins to view Mori as sinister and a threat. Is he responsible for the bomb? Is it his intention to drive a wedge between Thaniel and herself by manipulating Thaniel’s good and trusting nature using his unusual abilities?
All is revealed in Pulley’s intriguing and original first novel.