Thursday, September 30, 2010

Heart, In Abundance

The Clockwork ThreeThe Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every boy or girl, no matter how old, should read this book. I'll try to tell you why.

I believe at some time every child, no matter who or where they are, feels at least once and maybe several times like a slave of sorts, even in the best of times and in the most favorable of conditions. I know I did, and most of the people I've talked to enough about it to know, did also. Even though I was raised in pleasant circumstances with everything I needed, I did. Nonetheless, I had red hair and freckles, and my skin burned like the dickens. Ginger hair and abundant freckles that multiplied like crazy when I stayed out too long in the sun didn't appeal to me, not at all. Neither did the painful blisters from my sunburns. And that is putting it mildly. I felt like my light complexion made me a slave to it. I knew that my red hair made me an object of ridicule and bullying, and there were times when I utterly hated it and thought almost no one else, except perhaps another redhead, could ever understand.

THE CLOCKWORK THREE is the title of Matthew J. Kirby's novel about three young people that every person can identify with who is in or has experienced similar circumstances of crises, big or small: Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick. It is set on the eastern seaboard in a bustling city of the United States around 1900. Those three young characters provide ample opportunity for every young reader to find a friend to identify with relative to feelings of enslavement to something, whether it's freckles and red hair or something else much more or less serious.

Take as a mentor either the orphaned Giuseppe, who must play his violin in the streets for money and turn over all the earnings from doing so to an evil master, or the lovely and tender Hannah, who must work her fingers to the bone with little opportunity or future as a maid in a high-class hotel in order to provide for her impoverished family, or the handsome and strong Frederick, the young apprentice to a clockmaker who can't remember what happened to him earlier in his life so that he lost his mother and ended up in an orphanage. Because, if you do, you'll find more than the magic in Giuseppe's green violin found as flotsam in the bay, or in the automaton Frederick has long dreamed of bringing to life, or in the treasure in the park Hannah hopes to find to deliver her family from poverty and worse. You will find the magic of friendship, of sacrificing yourself for someone else, and of loyalty to both people you love and to principles.

This is Matthew's debut novel and what a grand one it is. You will love his tight storylines that will carry you away into the world of the three children; you'll marvel in the way he weaves his prose together so flawlessly, and you'll find satisfaction in the ease with which he employs metaphors and other literary devices. And characters! Oh my, the characters. Awesomeness.

Steampunk, fantasy, history, it has it all, subtly. But most of all, it has heart, in abundance.

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