Imagine the 20th century has just begun and a new and very grand London department store is about to open. Whatever your heart desires, you can get it wrapped up in ribbons and bows at Sinclairs.
The department store is about to become the talk of the town for all its finery, opulence and grandeur but then thieves strike, lifting items from a special jewellery exhibition in the store’s grand exhibition hall. Amongst the stolen items the most marvellous clockwork bird encrusted with gems, an exquisite miracle of hidden engineering which produces a different song every time it is wound up.
Will this scandal overshadow the opening of Sinclairs? Who could have carried out this most audacious of crimes? Suspicion falls on Sophie, a young girl with a slightly mysterious background of her own, who works in the millinery department. Having once lived a rather grander life, Sophie has recently fallen on hard times and now has to work for a living. This change in circumstances means she isn’t trusted by her colleagues and it doesn’t help that she was seen admiring the clockwork bird just before it went missing.
A pageturner of a historical middle-grade detective story with a sparkle of glamour and glitz mixed up with dodgy street gangs and suspiciously finely tailored gentlemen, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine is great fun to read. Developing friendships, bullying, kindness and compassion are all part of the mix, alongside code cracking, hidden passageways and serious crime. Woodfine’s period drama is a perfectly paced, exciting read and when readers turn the final page, they’ll be delighted to see that further adventures in crime-solving await Sophie and her friends in a second novel due in 2016.
The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow goes on sale this week and to celebrate this, here’s a video from Katherine Woodfine telling us more about her lead character Sophie.
If you’ve a child who’s enjoyed the historical novels of Jacqueline Wilson, or the detectives in Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co books this might just be the ideal book to suggest to them next. Last week M and J were on holiday and I read The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow to them as their bedtime read. It went down tremendously well, and resulted in these… our own priceless clockwork sparrows:
Jewels, gold, pearls and an exciting historical mystery, with a clever and thoughtful heroine? We’re all delighted that there’s to be a second in the series next year.