Cover art by Brian Despain.
Writer Matthew Kirby’s first book takes the plot-driven story to a new level of complexity while also delivering interesting and equally complex characters.
Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician “owned” by cruel and dangerous master, Mr. Stroop, who gives him food and a place to sleep but takes all the coins he earns each night. When the boy finds a wondrous, magical violin that plays with such beauty it fills his cap in no time, he finally has a hope of escaping his master and returning home to his family in Italy…if he can somehow keep the treasure a secret.
Frederick is an apprentice clockmaker, also an orphan, but with a very kind and generous employer, Master Branch, who allows the boy to work in the basement on his own secret project, a clockwork man that he hopes will win him his own clockmaking mastership, if he can find a way to make it move and think.
Hannah is a maid in the best and grandest hotel in town, trying to keep her family going after their father’s stroke. He had been a wonderful woodworker and carver, but now can barely move. A new guest at the hotel takes Hannah under her wing, but secret information Hannah learns by chance of a hidden treasure threatens end that, and her job.
All three stories are soon entwined artfully, and suspenseful and magical adventures ensue for each child, then each pair, and finally all three together as they try to achieve their goals, escape their enemies, and find the treasure. When the clockwork man comes to life, he is both a great help and another possible danger, and the most powerful man in town is soon drawn into the plot with surprising results.
A fun read with quite a few surprises and delights. Recommended.