Author: Katherine Woodfine
Publication Date: 4th June 2015
About the book:
You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store!
Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villains to justice…
What I Thought:
The Clockwork Sparrow is the first book in The Sinclair’s Mystery series by Katherine Woodfine. Sophie Taylor finds herself working in the millinery department of the prestigious new Sinclair’s Department Store in Piccadilly. Before she knows what’s happening she finds herself caught up in the middle of a robbery, with suspicion thrown her way she must find a way to prove her innocence, and with a little help from some new friends, Lil, Billy and Joe she sets out to do just that.
Being the first book in the series there’s a fair amount of introducing to be done, with the Edwardian setting, the concept of Sinclair’s Department Store and a whole cast of characters to be introduced but Katherine Woodfine does it brilliantly with it not seeming overly drawn out. In fact I was amazed just how much adventure she managed to pack into The Clockwork Sparrow. The action all takes place over the course of just a few days, but they’re a busy few days for our characters! I flew through the book in one sitting thanks to a well timed flight but the book is broken into great length chapters making it perfect for reading a chapter or two at bedtime! Just beware by the time you reach the conclusion it will be hard to put down!
Sophie is the first character that we’re introduced to and we soon discover she’s still a relatively young girl who has recently become an orphan and has gone from being comfortably well off, in a lovely home with a governess to having to find work and fend for herself. I really felt for Sophie, from the beginning she just wanted to make a good impression but this set her apart from many of the other girls and made her a target for name calling. Sophie however proves she’s resilient and a force to be reckoned with, especially once she finds herself a few friends amongst the staff. I definitely have a few unanswered questions about Sophie’s past and her change of situation with her father dying, I wonder if it will come to anything or if it is just a symptom of me being such a fan of The Little Princess!
I also developed a great fondness for Billy. Sophie befriends him early in the book, he’s an apprentice porter who would much rather be reading one of his detective mysteries but his mother is relying on him to bring in a wage. It’s clear he doesn’t enjoy what he does but from his interactions with Sophie and Joe in particular it’s clear that he’s a kind boy and I was so pleased with his ending in the book.
Lil Rose is an aspiring actress and one of the Captain’s mannequins – a model who walks in Sinclair’s regular fashion parades. Her parents don’t approve of her chosen career but she’s another character that comes across wonderfully in the book. She’s got a good heart and is always up for a bit of adventure!
Joe is the final member to make up the central quartet by the end of the book. On the run from the Baron’s Boys after deciding the one choice he thought he had in life really wasn’t for him he befriends our Sinclair’s trio while looking for a place to hide. He has to make a difficult decision or two over the course of the book but I was pleased to see he seemed to be on the up by the end of the book. I really hope all four of them will continue to feature in the rest of the series.
The Baron is the criminal mastermind running the show in the East End, only no one knows who he is. A faceless man considered mere legend by some, I get the impression he is to be the big baddie reaching across all the books in the quartet. I look forward to seeing what else he has planned and if he’ll ever be unmasked!
What a fun adventure this is! I think I’ve always had a slight affinity for books set in the Victorian/Edwardian period and this certainly doesn’t disappoint. A wonderful cast of characters with just the right amount of jeopardy this should definitely keep young (and older) mystery lovers entertained. I’ve already bought myself a copy of book 2.
About The Author
Katherine Woodfine is the author of the bestselling SINCLAIR’S MYSTERIES series, beginning with THE CLOCKWORK SPARROW which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal.
Until 2015 she worked for reading charity Book Trust on projects including the Children’s Laureate and YALC. She now combines writing with reviewing children’s books, organising book events and presenting Down the Rabbit Hole, a monthly radio show about children’s literature. Her latest book is PERIL IN PARIS, the first in the new TAYLOR & ROSE series which follows the heroines of the SINCLAIR’S MYSTERIES as they venture into the thrilling world of Edwardian espionage.
Connect With Katherine
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