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 villians to justice…
Middle grade adventures and mysteries make me happy, and this book really sparked the excitement I used to find from middle grade fiction when I was younger. I absolutely adored going back in time with Katherine Woodfine in the first of her Sinclair’s Mysteries series and there is nothing going to stop me from reading everything Katherine has written from now on!
Shockingly I have had The Clockwork Sparrow on my to read pile for over 6 years. I got a copy way back in 2015 when it came out… I’m not even sure if I bought it myself or got it for review. But with me not reading as much in recent years and always going for young adult or non-fiction rather than middle grade until very recently, I never got round to it. I follow Katherine on Instagram and chat to her regularly because shes in my local town of Lancaster so I figured it was about time I picked this up! I’m so glad I did too.
The setting is perfect. Its a fictional world based on the era that saw the development of department stores in the early 1900s. I really loved being introduced to this world because historical fiction is my jam and I’ve never really thought that much about what those stores meant for society at the time. It was a big thing for them, and these stores we so much more than just shops like we know them. They were the place where people hung out, and they held events. I really loved that everything in the Clockwork Sparrow was so centred around Sinclair’s and what the place meant to Sophie and her friends.
The characters in The Clockwork Sparrow seem a lot more grown up than they are, but thats the world they lived in. Sophie, the main character, is 14 and is deemed adult enough to be put to work and live in a boarding house when her father dies. Lil is around 16 and very mature for her age, and Billy is younger than Sophie, but needs to work to help his mum run the household. I forget that this was the norm for children in the early 90s, we wouldn’t even consider a 14 year old to be old enough to support themselves these days. But it was so its normal for the book to have children of this age in the situation they find themselves in. I loved each of these three characters, especially Lil, and the thought of at least another 7 books with Sophie and Lil in makes me so happy. Lil was easily my favourite because she was so strong and empowering. She was privileged as she was of a certain background but she uses it to put herself in situations that can help others.
Everything about this book, from the setting to the storyline and the characters, made me want to carry on reading. I devoured the book in a few sittings and I can imagine the others are going to be the same. The storyline was fast paced, there was a lot of mild peril and a lot of things that made me cry out in fury as some of the things that happened weren’t fair, but the characters handled it all amazingly.
I am saving The Clockwork Sparrow for Spike as I think its exactly the kind of book I want her reading in the future, with great female characters, a brilliant storyline and a basis in real life history that educates while entertaining.
The Clockwork Sparrow was published in 2015, and is the first in the Sinclair Mysteries series by Katherine Woodfine. The Taylor and Rose series follows the same two main characters.
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