Who says clocks aren't dangerous?

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by Tim Burdick on 01 October, 2014

Philip Pullman crafts Clockwork in the style of Grimm’s fairy tale. A story is like a clock. The narrator states, “Once you’ve wound them up, nothing will stop them’ they move on forwards till they reach their destined end.” The clockmaker’s apprentice, Karl, the story teller, Fritz, Prince Florian, Dr. Kalmenius are all cogs ticking away. Who know how it will end? The story is set in a German village on the snowy night before the revealing of a new figure in the clock tower.

Philip Pullman starts Clockwork as a story within a story. Fritz tells scary stories at the White Horse Tavern to the delight and terror of the local people. His story reveals the possible truth behind the mysterious death of Prince Otto. As Fritz tells his tale, one of the actual characters Dr. Kalmenius arrives with only a sledge. His presence frightens Fritz so badly that he burns his story and flees along with the rest of the guests. For the reader, Dr. Kalmenius could represent the devil and he makes a deal the depressed clockmaker’s apprentice. He gives him a small clock work, knight, Sir Ironsoul. This figure is an exquisite piece of metal and comes to life if he hears the word ‘devil.’ At this point, I will stop and you will have to read the story to see what happens to him.

The book is proof that a gripping tale doesn’t have to be a long drawn out affair.

All you can do is see what happens, who survives and who dies. For adults, it will be a quick read, but for children, it will be a fun scare before bed time.

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