In Catherine Fisher’s The Clockwork Crow, 12-year-old Victorian orphan Seren travels to stay with her father’s friend in Wales, hoping for a real family Christmas, only to find herself in a gloomy house, alone with servants, a talking mechanical bird and a mystery. Rich in evocative detail and multidimensional characters, this wintry enchantment is suspenseful, resonant of folk tales and perfect to curl up with in the cold.
On her solo journey to Wales, Seren is given a mysterious package to look after by a stranger and ends up feeling obliged to take it with her. But when she arrives in Wales, her Godfather and family are not in residence and she’s left with a bunch of dour servants who seem to be hiding something. It’s all very mysterious and somewhat creepy, and when she finds an enigmatic talking clockwork crow within the package, that only serves to make it weirder! Together, they set off to solve the riddle of Plas-y-Fran, facing many perils and challenges as they go. The Clockwork Crow is a perfectly pitched middle grade story that doesn’t put a foot wrong. Seren is a spunky, brave and determined heroine and this book is completely gripping from first page to last, poetic without being difficult to read. Catherine Fisher is a wonderfully accomplished writer. This is a highly recommended story.
Catherine Fisher, a poet as well as a novelist, produces children’s fiction notable for its delicate and fine prose. The Clockwork Crow is no exception... Like many excellent children’s novels, it begins with its heroine in transit. Seren, a thoughtful and imaginative orphan, is on a railway platform, on her way to stay with her godfather, when a stranger gives her a parcel that contains the parts of a clockwork crow... As in the best literary fairy stories, this novel uses psychologically reverberant symbols – a golden staircase, a black key – that lead Seren on a quest for knowledge and for a family of her own. Children of ten and older will find themselves pleasurably lost in this enchanting, candlelit delight.
Full of deep fairytale resonance, Fisher’s writing stands out in the mind’s eye like blood drops on snow.