Newest Review: ... the inn & offers Karl a dangerous solution to his troubles. But Dr Kalmenius isn't the only fictional character to appear out of the ni... more
Clockwork - an alarming little story
Clockwork - Philip Pullman
Member Name: apuskiduski
Clockwork - Philip Pullman
Advantages: Short, great twists and turns, great moral
This is a traditionally based twisted tale that has a distinctly macabre quality to it, where fantasy is met by a haunting reality.
It's fairly short as Philip Pullman's novels go (compared to the Northern Lights trilogy) but it's anything but easy to read. The plot thickens at every turn and you sometimes have to read back to check that you're in the fantasy part or the reality.
A parallel is drawn at the start of the book between Fritz the story teller and Karl the clockmaker's apprentice. Neither character has finished their work that is to appear in the public domain, with literally no time to finish it.
Karl starts his gruesome story which is based in reality about the mechanisation of a real boy, but mid-tale, he introduces a character, Dr Kalmenius who was an expert in mechanisation. Who should walk through the door of the dimly lit inn but the apparently invented Dr Kalmenius himself, looking very real indeed. Typical local reaction there - a deafening silence and a quick evacuation. The story doesn't get finished.
There are many questions raised by the appearance of Dr Kalmenius. He brings with him a tiny clockwork soldier who could be called Terminator instead of Sir Ironheart. He is triggered by a word and doesn't stop until the person who utters it is dead. Unfortunately for him, Karl is so desperate for a figure for his clock -remember the one he hasn't finished- that he steals the innocent looking figure, and pays the price.
It's hard to think that the book could have anything but a brutal ending but that's not the case. Gretl, the frail and tiny girl who lives at the inn saves the day and proves that you can give all of your heart and still keep it, a theme which runs throughout the book.
I have read this book to my Year 6 class of 10 and 11 year olds and it wasn't smooth sailing. We had to do a lot of analysis of the story working out what was truth and what was reality. It has a remarkably emotional ending that, once again, required a box of tissues for me. Well done Philip Pullman, reducing a primary teacher to an emotional blob in front of her class, that's got to be worth a prize!
Summary: All wound up will have you at the edge of your seat.
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