Set in London in 1909, this mystery brings to life a brand new department store, Sinclair's, as seen through the eyes of its young workers. It doesn't take long before you are just as enchanted with this place as Sophie is!
I was quickly sucked into Sophie's world. Her story is a beautiful blend of elegant imagery - you can practically smell and touch everything in Sophie does - and labyrinthian mystery. Sinclair's is the backdrop for a mystery that is, as times, dark: theft, murder, a crime lord, kidnapping, threats... in short, everything that makes up a satisfying nail-biter. But the overall book doesn't feel dark because of the balance of these plot elements with absolutely enthralling language. And this is an English teacher talking.
Clockwork Sparrow is primarily told from the perspective of Sophie, a young woman who is working in the millinery department (that's hats, if you were born after 1950 ;) of Sinclair's. But the narration jumps between Sophie and a few other key characters: Billy, a young porter who is prone to slipping up; Lil, an adored model of Sinclair's fashion; and Joe, a young man who has found himself in more trouble than he would like to admit.
Sometimes, switching narrators within a story can feel confusing or scattered. It worked for me in this novel, though, because each character has its own voice, and Sophie continues to be a uniting thread throughout the novel. Indeed, I found the additional voices added depth and intrigue to the mystery.
All in all, this novel was great fun - both from the layered mystery to the absolutely enchanting atmosphere of the store. Sinclair's really is a character in this story, and it plays its part well. I won't give spoilers away here, but if you would like details on the story arc before buying the book, send me a message! I understand the desire to know what's coming before handing a novel to a kid. But honestly, just read the book along with your kids! You won't be disappointed.
It's that book that transports you to another time and place... and keeps you there long after you've finished reading.
Buy The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow here! ($6.99, paperback)
Check out The Mystery of the Jeweled Moth for more adventures from Sophie and Lil
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Hi there! I'm Christine - Usborne Books & More independent consultant, kids' book fan, English teacher, mom of two boys.