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review 2020-05-23 15:47
The Lost Future of Pepperharrow - Natasha Pulley
The Lost Future of Pepperharrow - Natasha Pulley

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is the sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, which I re-read in preparation for this book and I think actually enjoyed more than when I first read it - at the time, I said I didn't think I'd want to re-read that book but clearly was incorrect, so make of that what you will. It's pretty safe to say that the things I found a little vexing about that book are also present in this one, hence I've given it the same rating.


Instead of London, most of The Lost Future of Pepperharrow takes place in Japan - as we start the book, Thaniel Steepleton is now pretty much fluent in Japanese and gets told he's being sent there on behalf of the British government. Meanwhile Keita Mori has been in Russia and his country is more than a little suspicious of what he's been doing, which becomes even more reasonable behaviour on their part when his role as a spymaster starts to be revealed. Mori's knowledge of possible futures is a massive asset to that role and when he and Thaniel end up in Japan, Mori is walking into a trap to try and test and/or control his powers. 


The book is set at the time of massive naval expansion on the part of the Russians and the Japanese, with the latter buying a bunch of new ships for their navy from the British. On arriving in Japan, Thaniel discovers that not only has Mori been cagey about his past there, he's also married - struggling with his health, Thaniel decides the best thing to do is leave Mori behind and concentrate on his work. This is a particularly attractive option for Thaniel when it becomes clear that Mori is disturbed by his still being alive, since he can see a number of possible futures where that's not the case. 


All of this relationship drama is happening alongside all sorts of electrical experiments which are creating 'ghosts' of past and future events, mimicking what Mori can do with his mind and throwing the local population into turmoil. There's plenty going on here and Mori is at the heart of it, unsurprisingly, having set into motion a chain of events that we later discover is mostly aimed at preventing an all-out war Japan is likely to lose at that point and also helping find a cure for Thaniel. At one point, Mori is believed dead and a former friend of his tries to pin his murder on Thaniel, before fortunately everything is resolved (though not without loss of life). 


As with the previous book, the one area in which the author falls down a little is still the characterisation of the women in her stories. While Grace Carrow, who played a major role in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, also appears here, it's Takiko Pepperharrow who is the main female character - she's a little better fleshed-out than Grace was, so it's a shame how things play out for her when there seemed to be other directions it could have gone. Anyway, if you can get past the role of woman as barrier-to-relationship where our protagonists are concerned, then you'll probably like this book as well.  

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text 2020-03-05 03:39
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text 2020-02-24 02:07
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review 2020-02-15 20:11
The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, Mori #2 by Natasha Pulley
The Lost Future of Pepperharrow - Natasha Pulley

I enjoyed 'The Watchmaker of Filigree Street', but the plot lacked real stakes as far as I was concerned. There were also some other tics to the story that weren't satisfying. Pulley has delivered something spectacular this time around.


Character still comes first, which I found satisfying, but the foundations of the world Thaniel, Six and Mori live in are shaken. Thaniel is having trouble with his lungs and the air choking fog of London will be the end of him, however he receives a new diplomatic posting to Japan in time to go along with Mori as he returns home to fulfill a mission he set into motion ten years earlier. Electro-magnetic experiments, large quantities of owls, and political machinations threaten to undo Mori's work - his ultimate goal remains a secret to reader for most of the novel.


Grace Carrow, now married to Akira Matsumoto and teaching in Tokyo, plays a part in the book as well and is more humane this time around while staying true to her character. The most interesting character is Takiko Pepperharrow, Mori's wife. Pepper, was a close paralell to Thaniel in many ways. She brought herself up from nothing and proudly retains many of her working class mannerisms long after entering higher social circles. After having been rescued by Mori and brought into his life, the broader implications of his clairvoyance trouble her.


The novel visits Keita and Takiko's pasts as well as those of the historical Kuroda Kiyotaka. Japan is facing a direct military threat from Russia and from within Japan is still struggling with the changes brought by Western influence and through Meiji reforms.


Did I mention ghosts? There are ghosts. The book was a lot of fun to read, it only took me so long to finish because I misplaced the bag it was in for several weeks.


Keita Mori


Previous: 'The Watchmaker of Filigree Street'

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review 2019-12-04 18:33
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Mori #1 by Natasha Pulley
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street - Natasha Pulley

A gold pocket-watch left in Thaniel Steepleton's apartment saves him from an explosion several months later. Investigation leads him to Japanese watchmaker Keita Mori. How could the watch predict when the bombing would occur? With threats of more bombings looming Thaniel agrees to help Scotland Yard investigate Mori.


As Thaniel gets to know Mori, he realizes these something deeper going on. In the meantime there's Grace Carrow, who is conducting experiments at Oxford and facing prejudice of her own.


A sequel being scheduled for the spring prompted me to read this. It was a fun historic romance set in Victorian London. I like how the author explores stereotypes and prejudice in this era, especially through the lens of the unlikeable Miss Carrow, but the plot could have used more tension. It felt like more of a character study, which is fine, but the book seemed to promise a lot more with all of the clairvoyance and terrorism and Gilbert & Sullivan.


Keita Mori


Next: 'The Lost Future of Pepperharrow'

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