The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a complex history covering several people who through accident or design find themselves at Birchwood Manor, a place that makes people feel safe and secure, blessed by the Faery Queen for sheltering the Eldritch Children according to local legend. However, readers soon learn there is a far more recent spirit protecting the people who appreciate and love Birchwood Manor.
Among the people who come to love the place are a contemporary archivist working to maintain and study the collected papers and memorability of a famed businessman and philanthropist and a police officer turned detective searching for a famed lost diamond. During World War II, The writer Juliet and her three children shelter in the country after their house is bombed while her husband is fighting Germany. There’s Leonard, coming between the wars to research the famed and tragic artist Edward Radcliffe, the man who bought Birchwood Manor back in the 1860s. There’s the young girl Ada who is sent to the girl’s boarding school run by Edward’s younger sister, Lucy, one of the few people who knows the real secrets of Birchwood Manor. The only other person to know those secrets is Lily, Edward’s muse, whose mystery haunts the house for over 150 years.
It took me a little while to get caught up in The Clockmaker’s Daughter, perhaps because the first character we are introduced to after a short introduction is Elodie, one of the least compelling characters in the book. Being an archivist is a great job for her because she is someone who doesn’t embrace life herself. This makes her someone who does not stand up for herself much, which makes her unsympathetic to me. I became much more engaged with the other people. This might also be because I had more understanding of the central mystery which readers are slowly led to solving for themselves with dawning horror. When our suspicions are confirmed, it’s not a surprise, but it is not intended to be. Morton wants us to suspect, to solve, and to feel satisfied when bits click into place. And do they ever!
Morton does a masterful job of tying up the loose ends without giving us one of those awful end-of-the-book wrap-ups. It’s all naturally part of the narrative, even when someone sits down and writes a letter detailing the story, we never read the letter. We don’t have to. The sense of place is power, of course, Birchwood Manor is one of the main characters so it better be. So, too, is the sense of time. It is perfect for this haunted season because it reminds us nothing is more haunting than love.
I received a copy of The Clockmaker’s Daughter from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.