The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola

Having absolutely loved The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola, reviewed here, I was thrilled when a copy of Anna’s latest book, The Clockwork Girl, arrived. My enormous thanks to Alex Layt for sending me a surprise copy.

Published by Orion on 3rd March 2022, The Clockwork Girl is available for purchase through these links.

The Clockwork Girl

Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

My Review of The Clockwork Girl

Madeleine has a new position.

The Clockwork Girl is absolute, unadulterated, brilliance. I thought it was fantastic.

Anna Mazzola has an intelligent deftness of touch that transports the reader completely to Paris of the late 1700s. The sights, sounds, aromas, politics, history, people, events and so on combine into an enthralling read that I found stunning. I could not devour The Clockwork Girl quickly enough and yet I didn’t want it to end because it captivated me so completely. There’s an atmosphere of mystery, menace and the strong sensation that there is something rotten at the heart of Paris, that simply ensnares the reader. If I say that, with all the recent horrors in the world, I have struggled to concentrate fully on anything but that The Clockwork Girl held my attention unwaveringly, it might convey what a mesmerising narrative this is.

The Clockwork Girl is an inspired title because, not only is this a story about automata, but Madeleine’s social class and her history mean that she is treated like an automaton. Women, children and the poor are deemed less than human, giving a disturbing historical insight that reverberates today. Themes of corruption – both of the flesh and the mind – at all levels made my blood boil because I was so invested in the narrative. Relationships from the most manipulative to the most caring and supportive give strata of interest alongside an exciting, sublimely plotted and thrilling story so that I think if I were to reread the story time and again I’d discover something new on each occasion. Honestly, I could not have been more impressed by Anna Mazzola’s crafting of historical detail with fictional creation.

Madeleine is a triumph. In a sense The Clockwork Girl is a feminist story as Madeleine survives against the backdrop of male dominance, corruption and manipulation. She’s the perfect balance of strength and vulnerability that makes her credible, engaging and a person whom the reader is desperate to succeed. What works so well in The Clockwork Girl is the illustration that whilst men hold all the power, it is women who are at the heart of events. Amongst those men, Reinhart and Lefevre illustrate the extremes of obsession possible in the human psyche in a compelling manner.

It’s hard to convey just what a triumph The Clockwork Girl is. It’s beautifully written without shying away from the brutal and disturbing. It’s creepy and believable in equal measure. It’s filled with clockwork creations but with humanity at its heart. I absolutely adored The Clockwork Girl. It’s one of my favourite reads of 2022.

About Anna Mazzola

Anna Mazzola is an award-winning and critically acclaimed novelist. Her debut novel, The Unseeing, won an Edgar Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK. Her second novel, The Story Keeper, was longlisted for the Highland Book Prize.

You can follow Anna on Twitter @Anna_Mazz and visit her website for more information. You’ll also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

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