Plot: In the old day in Germany an apprentice clockmaker named Karl, an innkeeper’s daughter named Gretl, and a writer named Fritz start the gears turning on the story of Clockwork. The townspeople gather the night before the unveiling of the new figure for the town clock, although, Karl has failed to make the figure. Fritz reads his latest story about a local aristocrat, Prince Otto and his son, Prince Florian. When Prince Otto dies on a hunting trip his heart is replaced by clockwork that helps him get his some home. Fritz is at a loss for an ending. However, his story starts to come true when the evil Dr. Kalmenius comes to the tavern, leaving Fritz to run in fright. The Dr. offers Karl a clockwork figure named Sir Ironsoul and Karl accepts.
Review: This is a haunting tale of a writers made up story that ends up becoming a true nightmare. Fritz never expected to see one of the characters from his story in flesh and blood, but when Dr. Kalmenius walks through the door of the tavern, he can’t believe it and runs in terror. Accepting Ironsoul for his apprentice clockwork piece was a bad move for Karl. Gretl, in an act of unselfishness save Ironsoul from death. All of the individual stories of the characters start to come together to form one story and when they meet in the end it is not what you were expecting at all. This fast-paced nightmare of a tale represents the the sacrifices that humanity has taken with becoming mechanical, quite well. You could read it several times over.
Genre: Horror/Fairy Tale
Reading Level/Interest Level: 6.0/5-8 graders
Similar Materials: Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury, The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
Reader’s Advisory: I found this story to quite disturbing, but oddly enough I couldn’t put it down and I would read it again. Pullman has created a story that is a metaphor for society and its need to become mechanized. Though haunting, I would say that children will love with story with its amusing and ironic theme.