Review | The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, illustrations by Júlia Sardà

This book is like a slice of perfect cake: light, fluffy, delicious and ideal to enjoy when curled up with a nice up of tea. 4/5 stars.

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine book cover

Yes, I know this is an enormous picture. But LOOK at that cover!

I was lured towards this book by the delightful, gold-embossed cover. Inside, the story is also peppered with cute illustrations. And “cute” and “delightful” are good words for this story. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is what you get if you mash together Nancy Drew, The Famous Five, Sherlock Holmes and set the action in a glittering London department store at the start of the twentieth century.

Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow book cover 1

Special mention to the illustrator Júlia Sardà – beautiful work.

Sophie, our heroine, is wonderful. She’s going through a rough time and having to grow up much earlier than she should. But she gets on with it without complaining or feeling unduly sorry for herself. I warmed to her instantly. She’s brave, smart and resourceful. Not bad for someone who just turned sixteen and has to elude danger in a corset and long skirts.

Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow internal illustrations 2

One of the illustrations separating the parts of the book.

The villains are properly dastardly and their plot is diabolical. But, of course, you know that this story operates in a universe where nothing truly bad can ever happen and all will be well. This is a fictional world where our characters find themselves in life-threatening situations and the worst thing they come out with is “Gosh!” or “Golly!”. As a result, the story is a warm, relaxing read. If you’ve just finished a hard-going or traumatic story, I would prescribe this book as an antidote. 

I guess this book is supposedly YA because all the main characters are in their mid- to late teens. That said, I didn’t think their ages mattered at all. This is a proper, old-fashioned mystery in the vein of Miss Marple where the mystery and intrigue are the focus.

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow internal illustrations 1

Another illustration, featuring the eponymous sparrow.

So if it’s so enjoyable, why didn’t I give it 5 stars? Probably because there is nothing terribly original here, as you my have guessed from the many references I have made to other books/series. Also, though it is very well-written and entertaining, it’s not as gripping as I need a 5-star book to be.

It turns out it’s the start of a series! I look forward to buying the next one and saving it to cheer myself up after reading something upsetting 🙂


Claire Huston / Art and Soul
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22 thoughts on “Review | The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, illustrations by Júlia Sardà

      • Yes! It’s true, now that you mention it, there has been that trend in YA, fitting into the whole teenage angsty thing. I appreciate a heroine with a positive attitude too. It’s contagious, especially when we spend so much time reading. Neat, I’m going to go see what I can do about getting a download for my Kobo. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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