The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

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Name: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Abbreviation(s):
Creator: Natasha Pulley
Date(s): 2015, 2020
Medium: Novel
Country of Origin: UK
External Links: Goodreads page
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Spoiler Warning: This article or section may contain spoilers. If this bothers you, proceed with caution.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a novel by Natasha Pulley, published in 2015. Set in Victorian London, it centers around Thaniel Steepleton, a lonely telegraph operator, who narrowly escapes a bomb blast thanks to the involvement of a mysterious Japanese expat, watchmaker Keita Mori.

Its sequel, The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, was published in 2020; it is set a few years after the events of the first book. The plot takes place mostly in Japan.

Another book by the author, The Bedlam Stacks, published in 2017, is also set in the same universe, although it intersects only briefly with the Watchmaker's events.

Summary

From Goodreads:

1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan.

Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something.

When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

Over the course of the book, it is revealed that Mori is clairvoyant, and can remember probable futures. The reason for his presence in London is that he was looking for Thaniel, who he knew could potentially become his partner.

By the end of the first book, Thaniel and Mori are together, Mori has engineered for Thaniel to play the piano for Gilbert and Sullivan, rekindling his old passion for music; and the two have decided to adopt Six.


The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, from Goodreads:

1888. Five years after they met in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Thaniel Steepleton, an unassuming translator, and Keita Mori, the watchmaker who remembers the future, are traveling to Japan. Thaniel has received an unexpected posting to the British legation in Tokyo, and Mori has business that is taking him to Yokohama. Thaniel's brief is odd: the legation staff have been seeing ghosts, and Thaniel's first task is to find out what's really going on. But while staying with Mori, he starts to experience ghostly happenings himself. For reasons Mori won't--or can't--share, he is frightened. Then he vanishes. [...]

In this sequel, the two characters spend most of their time apart. It is revealed that Mori was married to a woman before he came to England, much to Thaniel's sadness, as this reinforces his belief that Mori's distant demeanour is a sign that he means to leave Thaniel.

By the end of the book, the two are reunited and declare their love for each other. We learn that Mori's machinations were entirely geared towards trying to save Thaniel from his progressing respiratory illness. Indeed, the events of the book have influenced scientific progress which would lead to breakthroughs in medicine. However, at the end of the book, Mori has lost his "future memory" and must adapt to leading a regular life.

Main Characters

  • Thaniel Steepleton, a British telegraph operator/pianist with bad lungs and synethesia;
  • Keita Mori, a Japanese expat, watchmaker and plotter extraordinaire, with an unusual memory;
  • Grace Carrow, a physicist who would prefer not to have to marry;
  • Six, a workhouse orphan and Mori's apprentice;
  • Katsu, a clockwork octopus;

In Lost Future of Pepperharrow, also:

  • Takiko Pepperharrow, Mori's friend and an actress;
  • Kuroda, a power-hungry Prime Minister of Japan;
  • Takahiro Mori, the head of House Mori.

Fandom

The book has a small but devoted fandom. It is regularly nominated as a Yuletide fandom (a small fandoms exchange), as well as for the podfic holiday exchange ITPE.

The publication of the sequel led to an uptick in activity: a 50% increase in total fanworks posted to AO3 between Sept 2020 (82 works) and Sept 2021 (126 works).

Shipping

Keita Mori/Thaniel Steepleton is the book's canon relationship and main focus of the fandom. As of Sept 2021, only 8 out of the fandom's 126 works did not feature the pairing at all (7/82 in Sept 2020).

Tropes

Example Fanworks

Fanfiction

Fanart

Podfic

Links and Resources

References