The House of One Hundred Clocks by A. M. Howell

The House of One Hundred Clocks is an atmospheric mystery set in Cambridge in 1905. It’s a real page turner which weaves 19th century clockwork and engineering, women’s equality and dealing with grief into the story. Heartache, family secrets and an intriguing cast of characters, including a parrot, become more intertwined throughout the book and we just had to keep reading to see how the story would end.

The Story: After Helena Graham’s mother dies, Helena and her father move from London to Cambridge where he has a new job looking after wealthy Mr Westcott’s clocks. The house is full of clocks which need to be wound daily and with great precision – if they stop, Helena and her father’s lives could change forever…

Helena, her father and Orbit, Helena’s parrot, settle into the house with Mr Westcott and his servant, Stanley. But it is a strange household full of mystery and secrets which Helena becomes determined to uncover, especially when she befriends Mr Westcott’s young daughter and meets the previous clock curator’s family. So many questions need answering – why did all Mr Westcott’s former servants leave? Who is the boy that appears while Helena’s father is working? Who is leaving strange notes pinned to the walls? Who is throwing stones at the house?

The atmosphere in the house is thick with tension and unease and Mr Westcott’s actions are sometimes threatening and disturbing. His sister Katherine visits for each clock inspection and appears to be a stable influence on the household but there are undercurrents to her relationship with her brother. Past events heavily motivate all the characters’ actions and emotions and they are so cleverly woven together that every strand of the story comes to a satisfactory end with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

Grief at the loss of loved ones permeates the story but Helena and Mr Westcott’s daughter’s friendship leads them to finding comfort and each copes with grief in their own unique way. Orbit is a big emotional support to Helena, he was given to her by her late mother, and in a surprising twist he also gains happiness at the end of the story.

Working as a team Helena and Mr Westcott’s daughter are determined to help the previous clock curator’s family and discover why it is so important that the clocks never stop. The tension increases throughout the story but the solving of the different mysteries leads to hope for the characters who can all start to move on from their current situations.

The House of One Hundred Clocks kept us turning the pages, it’s a great story for middle grade mystery lovers. We read the e-book so can’t comment on illustrations but we absolutely love the cover!

Age Range: 9+

Author: A. M. Howell / Cover illustrator: Saara Söderlund

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