The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodvine
Published by: Egmont
Mystery is one of my favourite genres, so what better middle grade to start with than this? In brief, this book is essentially Nancy Drew in a department store, and if that sounds like your thing then there’s no way to be disappointed! With the next book in the series already published and the third on the way, I’m glad that now I’m hooked, more are at my fingertips!
P L O T
The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is a pretty obvious title. Sinclair’s, the department store that Sophie works for, is displaying some very fancy items for its opening day. One is a very, very precious and jewel encrusted wind up sparrow that plays different notes every time you wind it up. The sparrow is snatched and it’s up to unsuspecting young staff members to figure out who took it and to put it back in safe hands.
If you’ve read a lot of mystery books, or have watched a lot on TV, then it’s quite an easy mystery to follow. While I love mysteries, I’ve only ever really watched those that have an adult audience in mind, so they can be a little more complicated, but Clockwork Sparrow was still enjoyable, despite following the obvious paths!
C H A R A C T E R S
I really liked the crime solving group. Sophie, the shop girl, was the front runner, being the first questioned by the police and potentially playing a role in the snatch. I feel like the name Sophie, and all the characters I’ve read with that name, fall into a certain trope. She’s the average girl who’s capabilities and powers are overlooked. Now, whenever I see a Sophie, I’m going to know what to expect!
Lillian was slightly more show-y, being a model for the department store. She defied her stereotypical role and ended up being the one with a lot of ideas to push the solving of the mystery forward. Huzzah for feminine powerhouses like Lillian!
The boys were a great balance to the girls, Billy and Joe, being the slightly less reliable shop worker (due to nepotism) and the homeless vagrant. The split of boys and girls was very Enid Blyton, now that I think about it!
S E T T I N G
The department store is what sets this book apart from others in it’s genre. The descriptions were marvellous. It sounded like the kind of place you just wanted to run around in, trying on all the fabulous hats and eating all the sticky buns in the food fall. Imagining Marks and Spencers didn’t do Sinclair’s justice, so a descriptive writing style was necessary to capture the eighteenth century charm of shopping in a department store.
I think that’s one of the reasons I’m desperate to read the sequel. I want to see more of the setting, and how it’ll be used differently a second time round. I would have enjoyed if Sinclair’s had played a bigger role in the mystery, rather than just being the place where all the protagonists worked. In the next book, my biggest dream for it is a massive game of hide and seek.
V E R D I C T
With the same charming feel as Rose by Holly Webb, and a classic historical setting that’s not too laborious, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is an excellent first book in a series. You get to know the characters enough, and their positions at the end of the story will guarantee the next book to be just as fun. I’m excited by the potential of the series, so give the first book 3 stars, with the hope that the sequel will only get better!