Review: The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine

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Just look at that cover. It’s lovely, isn’t it? That small piece of artwork captures the atmosphere of this book to a tee. Elegant,charming, picturesque and enchanting. It depicts ‘Sinclairs’, a dress shop for the upper class residents of London:

‘Stepping on to the shop floor was like stepping inside a chocolate box. Sophie’s feet sank into the thick, soft carpet and she sucked in a deep breath of the rich, perfumed air.’

Sophie is a salesgirl in the Millinery department of the store and, being a girl of quite a lower class background, she is overwhelmed when she is swept from the dirty streets of London into the mesmeric world which is Sinclairs, a patchwork wonder of silks, lace, cotton and sparkles. A world of beautiful dresses, fine hats and expensive items.

‘An array of exquisite beautiful objects was laid out on a white velvet cushion, neatly labelled. Forgetting about wanting to hurry home, she gazed at a sparkling diamond tiara, then a rich purple gemstone the size of a hen’s egg, and then at a tiny, ornate golden bird, beautifully enamelled and glittering all over with gold and precious stones. The Clockwork Sparrow, she read.

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As you can tell from these extracts, the description in this book is exquisitely enticing. The book is peppered with quaint little portraits of women modeling hats, relating to Sophie’s role in the Millinery department. And extracts from newspapers featuring explanations of the crime which takes place in this gorgeously entertaining mystery book – the theft of the Clockwork Sparrow.

Sophie’s ordinary working-life becomes intertwined with an amazing quest to reclaim the priceless Clockwork Sparrow. This book is so beautifully written and is a contrast of Victorian life and intrigue. I loved it. It is an excellent book and definitely a great Christmas gift for a girl (aged 7-11+). 🙂

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