Title: The Clockwork Three
Author: Matthew J. Kirby
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Format: Paperback, 395 Pages
ISBN-10: 0545203376 (Scholastic)
ISBN-13: 978-0545203371 (Scholastic)
Reviewed by: Jessie
Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician who sees no way to escape from his ruthless master, until the day he finds an enchanted violin.
Frederick is an apprentice clockmaker with a past he cannot remember, who secretly works to build the most magnificent clockwork man the world has ever seen.
Hannah is a maid in a grand hotel, whose life is one of endless drudgery, until she encounters a mystifying new guest and learns of a hidden treasure.
As mysterious circumstances bring them together, the lives of these three children soon interlock, like the turning gears of a clock, and they realize that each one holds the key to the others’ puzzles. The trio’s adventures sweep them through the winding alleyways and glittering plazas of their city, and along the way Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick must learn to trust in one another—and in themselves—for they risk losing the thing they hold most dear, as the dangers they face quickly become all too real.
Quick & Dirty: This book was written with a younger audience in mind, but would be entertaining for anyone to read. Elements of history combined with fantasy make it a good escape.
Opening Sentence: When Guiseppe found the green violin, he did not think it would help him escape.
This book was definitely one that was hard to put down. The rhythm of it was fast-paced the entire time, which would make it more entertaining for the younger audience for whom it was written, but a quick, fun read for teens or adults as well. It was almost like a book of three short stories that combines at the end to become one story, so there is always something going on.
In case the reader misses this point, like I did, I would like to point out that the history behind the book’s storyline is shared in the About the Author section at the end of the book, and I think knowing that a main portion of the book is based on a true story really adds to the emotion and the drama of the storyline. But I’ll let you check that out yourself if you would like.
As it is set in a historical time period, the children are all carrying much more responsibility than we are used to for children today. They are basically children who work as adults, but with adults still controlling their lives. This book has quite dark undertones, and at some point I was questioning whether it was really appropriate for children in the audience for which is was written. Since it is based in a real historical time period, many of the dark elements were actual real fears that children in that age range would have had to face. I think it would be important to discuss that if reading this in a school or family setting.
Each of the children characters has largely different circumstances, but is at a turning point with the obstacle they are facing where they will either succumb to the weight they are carrying or rise above it. Although they are hesitant to do so, they must learn to trust other people to even give them a hope of overcoming the tremendous burdens that they have been faced with. In doing so, they must not only decide whom to trust, but must also fight back by attempting some not so commendable acts themselves. The children all end up admitting each of their follies at the appropriate time, however, showing that they too are trustworthy, just desperate enough to go against their inherently innocent nature.
The character progression is one of the most intriguing things about this book. It is definitely a coming-of-age story for the three main characters. I struggle with one aspect of the book, and that is that many of the problems are solved through somewhat mysterious means. Most of the events can be explained scientifically, but there are a few instances that are attributed to magic of some sort. I wish that the author would have found a more realistic way for the children to overcome their obstacles, since I feel that the overall purpose of the book is to show that children are certainly capable of something more than we credit them for.
Even with an Epilogue, this book definitely would have made an excellent series. The characters and plot are so well-developed by the end of the book that there definitely could have been more, but I suppose it’s that way with any good story. This one is definitely that enjoyable and the reader definitely becomes that close to the characters, wanting to step into the book and help somehow, to make sure that each child makes it safely to adulthood.
“You poor thing,” Alice said. “I wish there was something I could do.”
It seemed as though that was just something adults said. Adults like Reverend Grey. But Guiseppe felt that they were saying it more to themselves, so they felt less guilty about doing nothing. But he did not blame them. What they could do for him, they had done.
FTC Advisory: Scholastic Press provided me with a copy of The Clockwork Three. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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