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  • Hardcover
  • 395 pages
  • The Clockwork Three
  • Matthew J. Kirby
  • English
  • 05 September 2019
  • 9780545203371

10 thoughts on “The Clockwork Three

  1. says:

    I m in a weird position I m tired of Steampunk, and yet if I say that word to most kids that walk into my library they ll give me a blank stare followed by an immediate, What s Steampunk I d explain to them that it s this strange amalgamation of historical fiction plus futuristic gear based clockwork technology but I know that this would not cause the blank stares to cease They d simply grow blanker I m tired of Steampunk, you see, but even then I have a confession to make I m only really tired of hearing about it I m tired of being told it s the next big thing and that we should all be reading it And yet a good novel that involves clockwork and gears is right up my alley Particularly when the writing is so good that you d happily read the whole thing even if there weren t some gearlike mechanical whoozitz element to the tale It took a while, but I started hearing some low buzz surrounding debut author Matthew Kirby s novel The Clockwork Three Dividing his narrative between three different characters, the book has action, adventure, heart, music, good food, natural beauty, and strange underworld dealings than you could ever hope to find From proto robots to golems and s ances, it also manages to be packed with exciting elements without ever feeling overdone Three kids discover three different secrets that may change their lives forever In a seaside city where rich and poor are sharply divided, Giuseppe the Italian street busker discovers a green violin that may be the secret to his escape from this dirty old city back to his home across the ocean Hannah, in turn, discovers in the hotel where she works to support her ailing father and family, that one of its old residents once had a treasure, long since lost And Frederick, the clockworker s apprentice discovers the existence of a mechanical head that may be just what he needs to complete the mechanical body he s been building in secret Slowly but surely the needs and wants of these three characters begin to intertwine, until it becomes clear that none of them will get what they desire unless they take a chance and trust one another, come what may The city where this book takes place is interesting We know that it s in America, and that kids like Giuseppe have come to it from Italy Beyond that, however, it has all the characteristics of a made up metropolis Too small to be New York, it s nonetheless on the ocean, and is a large bustling area with rich and poor neighborhoods There s also a large park somewhere near the center This all sounds like New York, but Kirby has freed himself up with the option of giving his city new street names, new park names, and new buildings to populate Sure there are museums, but there are also Guilds of clockworkers and organized street urchins who busk for their bread To the author s credit, there was only a very brief moment at the story s start when I thought that maybe this book was set in NYC It passed quickly As for the era of the book, it s definitely during a kind of early Industrialized era, but no definitive year The trick to the book and it couldn t have been easy was to have three kids with three different narratives and most importantly of all three different points in time all intersect at just the right moments What happens to be a day for Giuseppe might be three days for Hannah or a month for Frederick So Mr Kirby has to manage to even out the time, to a certain extent He s hemmed in by the fact that if he leaves Frederick in a dire situation and then cuts to Hannah, she s going to have to not experience so much time that the reader is thrown off when they return to Frederick once again And while he s doing all of that, Kirby has to also make these three kids like one another He doesn t make it easy on himself by allowing them to be little charmers, either Frederick is uppity and cold at the start, a front that slowly melts as the other two get to know him Giuseppe and Hannah are both pretty instantly likable, so that takes a little pressure off of the author If all three were prickly pears we d have a hard time reading about them That s one difficulty the author must overcome Another is the whole Clockwork Man aspect About 296 pages into the story or so the book suddenly turns from a pretty piece of fairly realistic fiction albeit in a fantasy world into an out and out fantasy or science fiction piece you can determine for yourself which of the two designations fit better This marks a bit of a shift in tone, though fortunately we ve had enough small surreal moments before now to go along with what the author is doing In a herky jerky novel this moment would change everything and the book would end up being something like Cornelia Funke s The Thief Lord Which is to say, a fun rollicking adventure that suddenly produces a weird fantasy element and ends up weakening the novel as a whole The Clockwork Three avoids this trap, resulting in a stronger book When I talk with kids about the books they read, they ll sometimes point out to me whether or not a book has a one on its spine I run a bookgroup for kids and though they re huge series readers, they actually do not much care for the idea of new series They speak with distain of books that don t stand alone and have to have than one book in their series to be interesting When I get them to read The Clockwork Three I ll show them the lack of a spinal one and they will coolly approve That said, I m certain that Kirby could write a sequel to this book if he so desired The ending is deeply satisfying, with at least two of the characters in positions that are still not where they would have hoped to be at the story s beginning, yet are still satisfying The third kid, however, appears to be off to a life of grand adventure and possible danger This kid, I want to follow, wherever they may go So while Kirby doesn t commit himself to future tales, neither does he completely shut the door As it stands, The Clockwork Three satisfies the needs of any kid looking for adventure, really awful villains each child has at least one that they must personally confront , and the details that distinguish a book from being merely okay to being downright great A lovely debut and an author clearly worth watching in the future.For ages 9 12.


  2. says:

    Every boy or girl, no matter how old, should read this book I ll try to tell you why.I believe at some time every child, no matter who or where they are, feels at least once and maybe several times like a slave of sorts, even in the best of times and in the most favorable of conditions I know I did, and most of the people I ve talked to enough about it to know, did also Even though I was raised in pleasant circumstances with everything I needed, I did Nonetheless, I had red hair and freckles, and my skin burned like the dickens Ginger hair and abundant freckles that multiplied like crazy when I stayed out too long in the sun didn t appeal to me, not at all Neither did the painful blisters from my sunburns And that is putting it mildly I felt like my light complexion made me a slave to it I knew that my red hair made me an object of ridicule and bullying, and there were times when I utterly hated it and thought almost no one else, except perhaps another redhead, could ever understand.THE CLOCKWORK THREE is the title of Matthew J Kirby s novel about three young people that every person can identify with who is in or has experienced similar circumstances of crises, big or small Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick It is set on the eastern seaboard in a bustling city of the United States around 1900 Those three young characters provide ample opportunity for every young reader to find a friend to identify with relative to feelings of enslavement to something, whether it s freckles and red hair or something else much or less serious.Take as a mentor either the orphaned Giuseppe, who must play his violin in the streets for money and turn over all the earnings from doing so to an evil master, or the lovely and tender Hannah, who must work her fingers to the bone with little opportunity or future as a maid in a high class hotel in order to provide for her impoverished family, or the handsome and strong Frederick, the young apprentice to a clockmaker who can t remember what happened to him earlier in his life so that he lost his mother and ended up in an orphanage Because, if you do, you ll find than the magic in Giuseppe s green violin found as flotsam in the bay, or in the automaton Frederick has long dreamed of bringing to life, or in the treasure in the park Hannah hopes to find to deliver her family from poverty and worse You will find the magic of friendship, of sacrificing yourself for someone else, and of loyalty to both people you love and to principles.This is Matthew s debut novel and what a grand one it is You will love his tight storylines that will carry you away into the world of the three children you ll marvel in the way he weaves his prose together so flawlessly, and you ll find satisfaction in the ease with which he employs metaphors and other literary devices And characters Oh my, the characters Awesomeness.Steampunk, fantasy, history, it has it all, subtly But most of all, it has heart, in abundance.


  3. says:

    ATOS Book Level 4.5Interest Level Middle Grades MG 4 8 AR Points 15.0Lexile 680Word Count 100530The cover flap describes this story as a dose of fantasy, and a hint of magic My problem with the book, for me, is that it would work better if this was a fantasy In fantasy there is a suspension of beliefs, a stepping away from what you know to be true with in this world Giuseppe s fiddle playing has a hint of magic , why not give it some real magic, or at least let us set aside our preconceptions of the world and believe in the magic Is it possible, in this time period, to make a machine that can move and analyze data What is a green violin, what s it made of, is it magical well if we re in this worldhow could it be Is McCauley Park somehow magical This is a good story, set in this world, but I believe it could be a very good story if it was set in another world, one in which we could set aside our beliefs, one in which we could embrace the magic, ponder the wonder of the bronze head, and wonder at what other such things there could be in this world.Enough about meI think that most young adult readers won t give this book enough time to develop.


  4. says:

    4,8 StarsThis is quite an amazing book and so beautifully written Almost every turn of page was a great time for me It s sweet, funny, sad and heartwarming I doubted about the time setting of this book since there was no exact mention about it I guess But I m pretty positive it was set in a very long time ago, when clock was still something so precious and very artistic To my limited knowledge, I don t think this kind of clocks still exist nowadays Watch is a different story But I ll be very happy to know if they still do What stops me from giving it a full 5 stars is the background story of Madame Pomeroy Who is she, actually, except she s a medium Who s her enemy and why is he after her I think this part wasn t well explained even until the story ended She s not a main character, but she played a very important role to the three main characters So, I think she deserved a better story And, even though the title is The Clockwork Three, I think it s not a main story of this book Despite it s what connects the three, I don t find the clock was so important The best part about this book is how unpredictable the story is I knew from the very beginning that somehow they re gonna meet and need each other s help, but after that, it s a surprise A very very nice surprise.


  5. says:

    The Clockwork Three is aptly named as this is really three separate stories that occasionally intersect but never quite become one tale I enjoyed it but never particularly felt moved by it Partially because all the character are ratherflat Villains are extremely villainous for no apparent reason Good guys help the three like they are on some magical quest and then disappear into the story to never return again The three main characters themselves behaved as one might expect I suppose in credit to them, they act badly However, their acting out never made much sense to me I suppose it fit within the emotional box the author put them in, but I usually responded to their new, dangerous situation with, Well, you did that to yourself, idiot It was, however, a creative story and well imagined So there is that going for it.


  6. says:

    Reviewed by Rusty Key Writer Jordan B NielsenRecommended for Your guess is as good as mine It s far too immature and sentimental for teens, but it s so dense, and the plot so meandering I can t imagine younger children staying engaged with it Let s say ages 11 to 13 One Word Summary MawkishI hardly know where to begin How about with a compliment Matthew Kirby is a solid constructor of prose, and a very skilled selector of words His descriptive abilities though overused editors, I m glaring at you here are enough to give a reader pause over the effecting way he paints a scene, from the longest of cityscapes to the tiniest of baubles For that reason, should Kirby produce another book, I ll be willing to pretend that The Clockwork Three, his debut novel, never happened Set approximately in the late nineteenth century, in an invented city in the northeast region of America that smacks heavily of industrial era London, one rather suspects Jack the Ripper lurking in the alleys , The Clockwork Three follows three woebegone children of little means Two are orphans, one is forced into labor to provide for her failing family Cue the sad violins Conveniently, one is handy After his parent were killed in an accident in his home town in Italy, Giuseppe was sold by his cruel uncle to an even crueler, Fagin like man who wrangles poor, bedraggled children from all over the globe and forces them into slavery back in America Giuseppe saws away on his crumby fiddle for change to pay his Padrone, or risk a beating In the same city, Fredrick s fate after the death of his parents treacherous days for parents, these were wasn t quite as bleak After escaping the horrific orphanage cum child run textile factory he grew up in, Fredrick landed in the hands of a kindly clockmaker who made the boy his apprentice Fredrick became consumed with the work, aspiring to become a full fledged journeyman by creating a clockwork man of unparalleled sophistication Hannah s fortune splits the difference between the two While both her parents are alive, her father, a stonemason, suffered a catastrophic stroke in the recent past, sending Hannah s mother into a state of grief induced uselessness To help keep a roof over the heads of her parents and two younger sisters, Hannah dropped out of school and took up work at a hotel as a chambermaid, under a pinched and shrill Mrs Wool, who in later books might go on to become the great grandmother of Ms Hannigan Fredrick needs a head to complete his automaton, Giuseppe needs a ticket home, Hannah needs money to keep her family afloat While their paths do eventually meet, the union isn t so much like the fluid movement of a well crafted clock as Kirby perpetually, and seemingly desperately insists , but akin to the labored and painful grinding of gears being forced together.What might have helped this book is if Kirby had not attempted to base the story in any sort of familiar reality Though the city in which the story takes place never existed, the world is recognizable, and for the great bulk of the story the rules of this place seem to be that of our own Yes, it s winkingly suggested that Giuseppe s violin playing is magical , but that s taken as hyperbole Doves don t spring from the strings Yet somehow Fredrick s clockwork man, made from scrap metal, cogs and a lump of stone, when complete, bears an artificial intelligence that would leave any of today s robotics in the dust See, that lump of stone came from a Gollem , a protective totem, and the automaton s head was actually created by a legendary craftsman, who may or may not have been a magician All of that is fine, but the problem is this when you go through 250 pages of a magic free world and then suddenly something extraordinary happens, the reaction of the characters who witness it needs to match appropriately But when Fredrick s automaton sits up from the workbench, speaks Latin, then bolts up the stairs and out the front door, the reaction is less By jove, how did the dickens did that just happen Could it be that magic is real than Quick, run, it s getting away As the automaton goes on to rescue fraught children, exhibits a sense of justice, a knack for problem solving, and the ability to pick up new languages nearly instantaneously, all without the use of circuit boards or an Intel chip, it falls to the reader to gape at the implausibility Some might argue that this work falls into the Steam Punk genre Stories set during the industrial revolution, where the brass and steam machines are taken to a level beyond what the Victorians themselves imagined but to that I d say, it s all in or all out, and the same goes for magic If the story had been littered with fantastic creations and whispers of the existence of magic, not only would it have leant some joy to this otherwise dreary story, but some groundwork would have been laid for the remarkable events of the climax However, the greater crimes of Clockwork come from the overwrought sentimentality, and the role of adults as infinitely powerful wish fulfillers and problem righters, or flat out evil villains There is an awful lot of weeping in this book, and silent tears, and stinging eyes, and tearful smiles and restrained sobs Kirby leans so heavily on the misfortunes of his characters to win the reader s sympathy that there really isn t much time left to grow to like them Though the age of the characters isn t expressly specified they each seem to possess a remarkable ability at self analysis that reads far like a writer cramming adult intentions into the heads of his child characters, than organic feeling It would have been nice to give them a break from all the internal emotional revelations and allow them to just be themselves But for all the hand wringing and street chases, the problems of the children come to very tidy ends, solved easily by grown ups with money and influence, which aught to be punishable as literary treason There is no faster way to disempower young characters than by robbing them of the chance to make their own resolutions As the fairy godmother like solutions are applied to every trouble, we re left to stew in a I m sorry nauseating bath of a Hallmark Card level emotion that had me meanly wishing that at least one of them had died in the end For reviews from The Rusty Key, visit us at www.therustykey.com


  7. says:

    Reading books can be like chasing butterflies over hills So often, I want to capture the beautiful turn of phrases or word combinations like I borrowed the author s butterfly simile from this book For a steam driven person that moves fast, cooks fast, and reads fast, I m amazed when a writer can slow me down from a boiling to simmering temperature Believe me, it rarely happens This book did just that I was caught up in the beautiful descriptions, setting, characters, and similes What starts out as a fairly realistic story turns into an interesting fantasy Some of the steampunk novels come across as surreal and I liked this Dickens like setting, although it isn t really any particular city Sometimes I felt like I was in Europe and others times in New York The old time sounds of cobblestone streets and coal chutes along with child slave labor flavor the imaginary world with industrialization characteristics from the 1800 s Guiseppe is an orphan that works for a padrone, playing his fiddle on the streets for pennies His is a harsh life where beatings and stealing are everyday occurrences Hannah is a maid at a hotel who is now the breadwinner after her father had a stroke Frederick is an orphan who lives with a clockmaker as his apprentice after he discovered his talent for gears When circumstances bring the three together, they become friends helping each to improve their lot in life.The plot has the three characters points of view that are separate before their paths criss cross The author does a nice job keeping the action going and weaving the plot together I do think that some of my less patient readers might find the pacing slow While I found the author s word choices delightful, others might be impatient for the action to move along at a quicker pace Some writer s are wordier than others so I will just have to make sure I let them know that when booktalking its qualities In the beginning and most of the middle everything seems to be going wrong for the characters, but it wraps up well at the end The automaton s voice is distinct and there are hints that a fantastical element will kick in which is does around the last third of the book The magical green violin, the mysterious Madame Pomeroy and her bodyguard, along with the golem clay foreshadow what is to come.The characters have distinct arcs Guisseppe must decide how to live free of a life of enslavement Hannah must face her anger over her circumstances Frederick has to learn to trust others and let go of his fear of abandonment I did want some background information on Madame Pomeroy She was an interesting character She sure could reappear in a sequel if the author decides to go that route Some nice themes have Hannah having to take responsibility for her actions and learning how to make momentous decisions She seems to face critical choices than the others and needs to think through her actions based on character She must decide between good choices and bad choices She makes both, creating an authentic character She also has to deal with shallow characters such as Walter, just as Guiseppe has to determine how to react to a betrayal by his friend Many of the situations show characters having empathy for others and being slow to anger Here is Kirby s full description She leaned close to the pages, chin resting on her folded arms, eyes racing over words, like chasing butterflies over the hills, to catch as many as she could before going to work She wondered at how such tales of magic could be contained by mere paper and ink for her to read again and again Which she had Add this one to your shelf.


  8. says:

    First of all, let me say that this book should have a subtitle THE GREEN VIOLIN, for it is this very object which brings the three main characters together in the first place Without that, and some genius musical talent behind it, this story would not need to be told, let alone would it even exist.Each character introduced to us in this story, Giuseppe, Hannah, and Frederick, has some sort of background or past haunting them One was taken from his homeland by his menacing padrone to play for change in the streets of another, one s father became desperately ill and disabled causing her to stop schooling and work to help her family, and the other lived in an orphanage with a terrible woman named Mrs Treeless who cared for no one but herself and her own well being.These characters pasts play some sort of part for what they do throughout the book They at times reflect on their pasts in the story, and their goodness and kindness is influenced by their reflections on what has been and what they hope will be The story is written very well It keeps the reader engaged throughout the reading, and I, personally, could not put it down There were a few twists and turns, and I became excited at times to find out, along with the characters, certain bits of information not known before in the storyline I was definitely intrigued by how the characters lives kind of became intertwined with one another s.This story is one of friendship, of dreams of the past, and of people helping one another to reach eachother s goals It is a magical ride of treasure, holly leaves, music, nature, and clockwork men It becomes very Hugo esque near the ending, or so it reminded me I love the incorporation of automatons in the book It fits well and flows neatly with the storyline.This book is not just for readers with a 4.5 reading level That s what it says in the book sitting by my side, It is a book that I wholeheartedly believe any age group would enjoy You just have to be willing to open the cover and listen to the characters inside That is what I did, and this book definitely did not disappoint.For reviews by me go to


  9. says:

    This middle grade read was given to me by my mom as a senior in college gift The writing is geared towards middle grade, so no lavish descriptions or large words, but it is just as lyrical as some young adult books Throughout this book, I was reminded of The Thief Lord with the whimsical characters and action.This book is of a suspense book Nothing huge, but each chapter alternates between the three main characters and the chapters often than not end in cliffhangers I had to resist the impulse to flip ahead and see what happened It was sweet and innocent, with some violence and a little technical jargon with the clockwork pieces, but it was also mysterious and fascinating The hotel, for example, holds many secrets with boarded up rooms and odd guests I love exploring old houses, so I was very excited when I came upon the old hotel However, since it is geared toward middle grade readers, there were plot strings that were never resolved It felt a little like there was only one purpose of this book, and the plot threads that were on the side were largely ignored once they had played their parts This didn t detract from the book, but just indicated it was not like a young adult book I m used to reading.Light hearted and fun, it was long for a lower level book but definitely an easy read for a day or so I would recommend it as a breath of fresh air for your brain It was a very nice break from dismal and gritty novels I ve been reading.


  10. says:

    Why I read this Steampunk, and a debut author I couldn t resist Plot This book follows three young people in 19th century America The first is a street performer named Giuseppe who dreams of returning to Italy, back to his family Hannah is a maid trying to help her family while her father hopefully recovers from his illness The last is Frederick, the apprentice of a clockmaker who is trying to complete his own automaton All of their lives become intertwined and they end up relying on one another to solve their individual problems.A fantastic story full of adventure, passion, and friendship.Characters Out of the three, Giuseppe is my favorite character I love the stories of street performers or thieves that are forced to work by padrones and find a way to get free The whole book had a Dickens vibe and Giuseppe s story reminded me of my favorite book Oliver Twist The other two have their own quirks and strengths and I felt like they made quite an odd assortment of comrades.Relatability Anyone who likes rags to riches stories, Dickens, or steampunk will enjoy this book.Cover Commentary Love how steampunk y it feels.


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characters The Clockwork Three, audiobook The Clockwork Three, files book The Clockwork Three, today The Clockwork Three, The Clockwork Three 34df9 Three Ordinary Children Are Brought Together By Extraordinary EventsGiuseppe Is An Orphaned Street Musician From Italy, Who Was Sold By His Uncle To Work As A Slave For An Evil Padrone In The US But When A Mysterious Green Violin Enters His Life He Begins To Imagine A Life Of Freedom Hannah Is A Soft Hearted, Strong Willed Girl From The Tenements, Who Supports Her Family As A Hotel Maid When Tragedy Strikes And Her Father Can No Longer Work She Learns About A Hidden Treasure, Which She Knows Will Save Her Family If She Can Find It And Frederick, The Talented And Intense Clockmaker S Apprentice, Seeks To Learn The Truth About His Mother While Trying To Forget The Nightmares Of The Orphanage Where She Left Him He Is Determined To Build An Automaton And Enter The Clockmakers Guild If Only He Can Create A Working HeadTogether, The Three Discover They Have Phenomenal Power When They Team Up As Friends, And That They Can Overcome Even The Darkest Of Fears


About the Author: Matthew J. Kirby

Matthew Kirby was born in Utah, and grew up in Maryland, California, and Hawaii As an undergraduate he majored in history, and then went on to pursue an M.S in school psychology For ten months out of the year he works with students, and during the rest of the year he writes He and his wife currently live in northern Utah.