In this sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street,Thaniel Steepleton moves to 19the century Tokyo with Keita Mori, his clairvoyant Japanese clock maker lover. When Mori goes missing, Thaniel must find him in an electrical storm that has unleashed a city of ghosts.
I was thrilled to be reintroduced to Thaniel and Mori and the future that Mori seems to shape for those he loves. Their relationship is delicate and lovely, and in so many ways reflects who they both are ... I am a sucker for a ghost story, and I loved the way that Natasha Pulley made the ghosts real and an integral part of the novel. The fear they elicit and what they represent is a direct manifestation of the feelings present in Japanese society in 1888 toward foreigners. The introduction of the ghosts is terrifying and fascinating at the same time. Their appearance illustrates a future, past and present colliding in an electrified space not meant to exist. Pulley makes that space very believable, so much so that it is difficult to put the book down. At times, it is a love story, a story about a family doing their best, a ghost story, and a science experiment gone awry. Pully has created an amazing world in The Lost Future of Pepperharrow. I was so glad to once again spend time with these characters and look in on Thaniel, Mori and their family.
Fans of Pulley’s previous work will appreciate her style; a slow-to-ignite layering of many conspiracies, the barest scientific justification in science fiction, and the slight twist of historical fact and myths. Small complications and adversaries of circumstance eventually culminate in a race against time, all operating along the railroad-line justification of Mori’s making. Chance seems to play a large part of many plot points, all explained by the basic premise of Mori’s nearly omniscient power. The magical way that science is woven into understanding the world is unique, if oversimplified. Electric discharge activates intentional shades of past movement, which appear as ghosts in smoky rooms and foggy streets. It doesn’t really make sense, but it’s not so ridiculous that you dismiss it entirely ... the slow folding and unfolding of the plot takes over half the book to fully coalesce into action and movement. It moves fast in parts, speeding through an escape from prison in just a few paragraphs, but slow in others, keeping characters in said prison for long swaths of time as they clean rooms and make tea without much narrative payoff. When things start to finally become understood, and all dead ends are explored, there is a sense of throwing darts in dark room, where Mori is the only one who knows where the board is. The way that the two point of view characters go through their narrative is like the arms of an octopus. They slowly outstretched, feeling a plot, story, or understanding, and then at a dead end, quickly retreat to a familiar place ... it feels necessary to have read Filigree Street before diving into Pepperharrow. The intricacies and details of each relationship is hard to replicate in summary, and the result is that the book reads as if Pulley assumes you already have a working knowledge of the people involved, and in fact, some essential points of the lot rely on this understanding ... ultimately, a book for Pulley’s fans. It will be a hard sell for new readers, as it will take too long to pay off and requires a strong understanding of the characters from the first page.
... phenomenal ... Pulley’s intricate plot, vibrant setting, entrancing magic, and dynamic ensemble of characters make for an un-put-downable historical fantasy. New readers will be pulled in and series fans will be delighted by this tour de force.