The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

Release Date: June 4, 2015
Publisher: Egmont
Rated: MG/YA 12+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!
Goodreads Website

You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store!

Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, BREAK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villians to justice…

A splendid adventure awaits you.

This book was part of the large stack that Pansing sent me. I’d never heard of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow before, but it sounded really intriguing so I decided to pick it up. This book was such a delight! I love historical-fiction and I love mystery–growing up I would be the kind of child that would read Enid Blyton books endlessly, so this was the perfect revival. It was like an amazing mashup of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and The Five Find-OutersI ended up reading this in one go, and stayed up pretty late to finish it. 

This book had the most beautiful descriptions, especially of Sinclair’s department store. I really felt like the store was truly magical, and I got pretty sad when I came back to reality knowing that there was no store like this that existed (that I know of anyway). This book often had my mouth watering as well, as the descriptions of food sounded extremely delicious. That’s how you know a book is well-written people: the food makes you want to run to the kitchen immediately only to find disappointment with the reality of food that cannot compare to the food in the book.

As [the crowd] swept past the doormen into an immense marble entrance hall, the first thing they noticed was the delicious smell, like bonbons on Christmas morning. The next was a magnificent fountain in which white-marble mermaids basked in a sea-green pool. The silvery tinkling of the water mingled with the tick of an enormous golden clock that stood against the wall.
–p. 71, ARC*
*text is subject to change in the final version

The characters were so great as well. They were slightly older than most middle grade characters, which made me enjoy this a lot more, knowing that the characters were closer to my age. Sophie’s character reminded me of Sara's from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I sympathized with her and felt bad for her when the other sales girls made fun of her. I was happy when she makes friends with Lil, another fabulous character, and Billy, whose devotion to her is absolutely adorable. There was such a great cast of characters and even the villains were created really well. The mystery was also gorgeously written–I didn’t know who was going to be guilty until near the end and the big reveal. The only problem for me was the motive behind the theft of the clockwork sparrow. I felt that there was just too big of a story at hand that suddenly comes in, with no previous mention of it in the text and suddenly there’s a whole plot involved that didn’t exist before. It all made sense, given the time period, but it just felt a bit too sudden for me, and I would have liked just a bit of a transition into it. Other than this, it was seriously well-done!

A stunning debut, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow captures the same tone of many of my dusty and well-loved childhood books but brings a fresh new voice to an audience of this day and age. Katherine Woodfine’s command of words is striking and will have readers guessing in this enchanting whodunit mystery until the very last page.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

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  1. I've never heard of this one before either, but just like you, I like historical fiction and the concept behind this one seems fun. The quotes you chose are great, and I love the sound of the mystery. Nice review :)

  2. Sounds like it might be a d=good read for tweens?
    Kate @ Ex Libris


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