Cover Image: The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

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The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is Natasha Pulley’s third book and sequel to The Watchmaker of Filligree Street. Thaniel, Mori and Six return after four years have passed since the end of the previous book. Thaniel and Six travel with Mori to Japan together after Thaniel is sent to investigate stories of ghosts by staff at the British Legation. Grace also features as she is teaching in Japan, and new characters are also introduced. 
I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Natasha Pulley’s books, but did struggle to get into this one. The characters are as fabulous and intriguing as always, but the story took a little too long to pull me in.
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The Lost Future of Pepperharrow expands the universe we fell in love with in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street as a lot of the action takes place in Japan. It's the characters that shine for me though, especially the relationship between Mori and Thaniel. Six was another favourite character (alongside Katsu) and I loved their small family.
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An interesting book and having loved her first book, I hoped I would love this one too. I did....it was just different.
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It’s been five years since Thaniel Steepleton, an unassuming translator, met Keita Mori, a watchmaker who remembers the future. Thaniel receives a job posting to the British legation in Tokyo at the same time Mori is planning to travel back there with business of his own. 

I make no secret of how much I love Natasha Pulley’s quietly involving books, her fully realised characters and the way she weaves magical elements in so well you could swear they were real things. 

In Pepperharrow, where Mori was a man out of step with the world, or possibly so in step with it as to look out of place, this time it is Thaniel and the Western reader who find themselves in an entirely different culture. We get to see Mori on his home turf and he is, of course, manipulating events, infinitesimal details of the plot causing avalanches hundreds of pages down the line. 

I wasn’t sure that I was going to like Pepper. I was using chapters focusing on her as a “oh I should take a break/get some sleep markers at first, but by the time her present story really got underway I was invested in how it was going to pan out. 

So, really, my only gripe is that this one could have used more Katsu, but then again, every story could be improved with more mechanical octopus!
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I read and loved The Watchmaker of Filigree Street last year, loved it. Thought about it a lot after I was finished and recommended it to lots of readers at school both staff and students. I was so excited to get hold of a galley of this one which is the third book in the series. I haven't read the second one but it didn't matter as I was immediately back in the world Thaniel and Mori and it felt like pulling on a lovely comfortable cardigan on a wintery day. This is exactly the kind of book that you want to curl up with in the sun and while away a few hours with.

Thaniel and Mori have ended up in Japan, Mori's ancestral fort to be exact. Thaniel has been sent to the British Legation office and he is to try to gain information on the build up of Russian warships off the coast. He also needs out of London where his lungs are being punished by the fog and his health is becoming worse and worse. He has his and Mori's beloved adopted daughter Six with him, she is one of my favourite characters and I love how she is written. There is an unusual feeling in the building, there are secret meetings and suspicious characters hanging around. Thaniel starts to have a very odd feeling. Mori disappears, Thaniel goes to the British Legation where he is trying to find out why there are suddenly ghosts in the kitchen, the staff are leaving in droves and the Counsel is behaving like an incompetent. Thaniel comes to believe that Mori is in terrible danger and is deeply suspicious of the woman who proclaims herself to be Mori's wife. Mori has a wife! Shock horror!

There is a lot going on in this book. The action is full on and lovely Thaniel is in terrible danger throughout. I had a terrible feeling of impending doom for both of our heroes and found it uncomfortable reading as I am so attached to them.

The magic, the time travel and the weirdness are all so beautifully handled by this author, I think this is one of the most glorious series and I'm looking forward to the next one. It was the perfect escape from reality in this time of lockdown when I've had such trouble reading.

This says on the heading that it is book #2, this is incorrect, it is book #3

Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for providing me with a copy.
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All of Natasha Pulley's books have a gentle, slow-burning magic to them, and The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is no exception. Returning to the world of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street felt like meeting up with an old friend, and falling into the same easy rhythms we've always shared, in spite of the changes the intervening years have wrought on us both. Though of course, when the old friend in question is a genius clairvoyant with a penchant for tugging on the strings of world history, figuring out what on earth they're going to do next is half the fun.

Like Natasha's other works, Pepperharrow is hesitant to impose limits on itself - the narrative skips about, from London to Japan and through time and genre, painting a broad tapestry that's all the richer for the variety of threads woven into it. I was fortunate enough to attend a Q&A about the book just before the Covid-19 lockdown began (which is also the reason why it's taken me so long to get my head screwed on straight enough to write a review that does the book a modicum of justice - jury's still out on whether or not I've achieved that, of course), and one of the elements of the writing process that Natasha mentioned during the event that I found most interesting was her way of blending together elements of history, science and folklore, and finding the common ground between them. As in her previous books, it's often hard to tell which motifs and plot points are grounded in fact and which are pure flights of imagination - and that's the joy of it, as it makes the magic of clairvoyance and ghosts-that-aren't-quite-ghosts feel far more alive than mere words on a page.

But it's the characters that are the real heart of the novel, and the quiet moments between Thaniel and Mori are the ones that have stuck in my mind and heart the most since I turned the final page. That endless talent for capturing unbearably gentle moments of connection is what will have me returning to Natasha's books again and again, for as long as she continues to bless us with her writing (hopefully for many many years to come!).
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I wanted to like this book so much and at times I did get lost in the fantasy.  However, to be really honest I struggle with books like this, wild flights of imagination, a bit of supernatural and aspects of steampunk.  It was too much for me but I know there is an audience that will love it!
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Natasha Pulley seems to be making a habit of writing lush, densely plotted books with a blend of history, mystical happenings and complex relationships. Oddly, I haven’t (yet) read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, the book which first introduced us to Thaniel Steepleton and Keita Mori but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this book. Thaniel works for the Foreign Office as a translator and lives with Six, a child rescued from the workhouse who thinks him as a parent, and, when he isn’t on his mysterious travels, Mori. The three have, to me, a beautiful relationship – tender, protective and loyal – but they also have secrets. When Thaniel accepts a job in Japan he and Six are reunited with Mori – although the relationship is changed by his elevated status in a very hierarchical Japanese society – and, it is to be hoped, he will escape the London smogs which are damaging his health. The job, however, is very odd – the British legation is struggling to keep their local staff because their building is, it seems, haunted and Thaniel also discovers that he has to deal with Takiko Pepperharrow – Mori’s wife…

This is a richly written and complicated novel which, if you forced me, I would categorise as magical realism. With a bit of alternate history thrown in. Fascinating characters and a plot that just keeps getting more and more twisted until it, suddenly, begins to make sense. A perfect piece of escapism. Which seems like a good idea right now.
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This was a wonderful and hauntingly evocative sequel to 'Watchmaker', and I knew even before I picked it up that I would love it just as much, if not more then its predecessor. 
We are welcomed back into familiar arms with my two loves, Thaniel and Mori. This time we are taken to Japan where Thaniel has been unexpectedly posted to Tokyo in order to investigate reports that the staff at the British Legation have been seeing ghosts. Mori on the other hand is also returning to Japan after a stay in Russia.
I loved an awful lot about this novel and as Always, Natasha's writing and skill at with beautifully woven prose, is as always a delight and I found myself often fighting sleep to read this into the early hours.
All I can say is, for those that haven't read a Natasha Pulley book, is that you should rectify this as soon as possible. You are in for a treat.
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loved the Japanese setting of this book and found it an enjoyable read. It was quite confusing in places and slow to really gather momentum, but everything came together in the end. Six was a gorgeous character and I loved her and her parents together. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
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At times a book meets you in the place where it just does not really work. I liked the Watchmakers well enough, but this book just absolutely did not work for me. I can see from other reviews, how much I am in the minority here.
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I love this book. I LOVE THIS BOOK. I have adored Natasha Pulley's writing since her debut. I love the way the world is constructed, especially the speculative fiction elements in this historical fiction series, and I am ridiculously attached to the characters. Every time a character was mentioned from a previous book in this one, I got so excited and pleased and I just wanted to know everything that was happening to my babies.

Keita Mori has my heart.

I want there to be more with these characters, in this world, but I know there probably isn't going to be. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow has a well rounded, satisfying ending that I am very pleased with (in some places, other places just sad), tying up loose ends and answering most of the questions poised across the three books.

I'm looking forward to Pulley's next book and the next load of characters that I will become ridiculously attached to.
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The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is Natasha Pulley’s third book, but the direct sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. The story picks up approximately four years after the events of Watchmaker. 

Mori, Thaniel, and Six have settled into a quiet existence. Mori is in Russia, and has been for awhile. Thaniel bides his time taking care of Six, working at the Foreign Office, and waiting for the post (and hopefully a message from Mori); however, London’s thick toxic fog means the post is often delayed. It is one such day without the post when Thaniel is assigned to Tokyo’s British legation. Officially, he is assigned to be a translator; unofficially, he is being sent to investigate the legation staff’s claims of ghosts.  This all couldn’t have come at a better time because London’s toxic fog is wreaking havoc on Thaniel’s already weak lungs.  

When Thaniel returns from work that evening, Mori has returned from Russia. He also has business in nearby Yokohama, so they set off together, with Six, to Japan. 

In Japan, things aren’t as they seem. There are mysterious electrical storms, disappearances, and ghostly figures. And when Mori disappears, Thaniel realizes that these events may have more in common than it appears.

I definitely enjoyed The Lost Future of Pepperharrow more than The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. I think that the plot came together much more cleanly than in Watchmaker. While Thaniel is removed from some of the storyline, you can see how it is playing out in underlying details and small breaks to follow other characters like Takiko Pepperharrow. 

Grace still appears in The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, but she is not a POV character and her interaction with the main cast is quite small. Another of my complaints from Watchmaker regarding historical racism is also a lot better this time around, mostly because the story takes place in Japan so the characters are all in a different context. 

In The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, Takiko is used similarly to Grace in Watchmaker. However, I liked Takiko’s characterization more. She was a more complex character, who had realistic and complicated feelings about Mori and about his clairvoyance.  I also prefered the way that Takiko was used as an obstacle between Mori and Thaniel’s relationship over how the same point was handled with Grace. However, I was still disappointed in the way that her character ended up coming across as kind of disposable. 

If you are anticipating, or hoping for, seeing some happy family development and interactions between Mori, Thaniel, and Six, the majority of the story is not going to give that to you. There is more development for all of their relationships, but a lot of it is based around some fantastic angst (sorry, I love relationship angst (as long as it all turns out alright)).

Mori and Thaniel have never really spoken about their relationship or what they are to each other. This brings up a lot of anxiety with Thaniel because he feels like he might be pushing something on Mori that he is indifferent about. And when he meets Takiko, those anxieties grow into feelings of being unwanted. Mori’s interactions with Thaniel during this time don’t help Thaniel’s feelings. But, Thaniel comes to an even more difficult (and heartbreaking) realization about why Mori is acting the way he is. With all of the trouble in their relationship, Thaniel and Six leave Yoruji early for his job in Tokyo. 

I can’t quite put a finger on what the problem is specifically, but The Lost of Future of Pepperharrow is still missing something to make me love it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed it significantly more than The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. But, it still isn’t a stand out novel for me. And it isn’t my favourite of Natasha Pulley’s novels. Maybe it’s the clairvoyance, the steampunk-esque aesthetic, the second marriage of convenience in the series, or something else not yet identifiable, but it’s just not the book for me. 

If you are a fan of historical fantasy, and want something with an LGBT relationship, I recommend The Lost Future of Pepperharrow.  It is a detailed book with a strong voice and an interesting setting.
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In her sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley returns to her characters Thaniel and Mori in a new political adventure - this time in Mori's ancestral home in Japan. When Thaniel is offered a position at the British legation (manipulated in typical Mori fashion to save his failing lungs from another winter of London smog), he's pulled into a diplomatic mess, with threats of war between Japan and Russia, rumours of ghosts scaring off servants, and secrets from Mori's past rearing their heads at every turn.

With The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, Pulley sets out to examine the darker side of Mori's clairvoyance, along with further world-building around its mechanics. I particularly enjoyed the expansion on Mori's limitations, with other characters using dice and random number generators against him. It's hard to write a clairvoyant character without making him omnipotent, and Pulley deftly navigates that borderline.

I don't tend to trust sequels - if you can't fit it in the first book, is it really worth saying? - but there was enough new material in this one to make it feel like a worthwhile read. That said, I had been hoping that The Lost Future would resolve some of the issues I had with Watchmaker - which it failed to do.

I was disappointed to find yet another female main character who seems to exist purely as a problem to be solved for Mori and Thaniel's relationship - not to mention that the ultimate resolution was immensely dissatisfying. Perhaps this would be compelling if it was a character decision (e.g. Mori was intentionally 'disposing' of these women) but disappointingly Pulley tends to shy away from this at the last moment, repeatedly revealing in an anticlimactic sleight of hand that actually whatever happened wasn't Mori's fault. This may just be a matter of personal taste, as I prefer it when an author truly commits to a dark antihero.

Another thing that caught me off-guard was the dialogue. As Pulley explains in a note at the end of the book, she takes an idiomatic approach to representing different tonal registers Japanese, in a move that reminds me of the various Cockney iterations of Gavroche in Les Mis. I did find this jarring at times, as it reads very differently to Japanese fiction in translation, but it's a curious stance and I understand the reasoning behind it. However - overlooking that - there was still a sense in the the dialogue that every character was witty, sarcastic, and irreverent, which is one of my pet peeves in fiction.

Overall, it was enjoyable to return to the characters from Watchmaker and learn more about the mechanics of Mori's clairvoyance - the first pages gave me that cosy feeling of slipping into a familiar woolly jumper - however there were still some axes to grind. Pulley has written a sequel that lives up to her first novel (which is no mean feat, so hats off to her!), but regrettably it's also no improvement on it either.
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I love Natasha Pulley's writing and she's definitely one of my favourite authors, and getting to be back with Nathaniel and Mori was wonderful. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow put my heart through the wringer, and the writing is so beautiful, and the way Nathaniel and Mori's relationship is expanded is just as gorgeous as I could have hoped. And Six! I'm always wary of depictions of characters on the spectrum, especially in historical fiction, but Six is amazing, and the way Nathaniel and Mori both treat her really warmed my heart (as someone also on the spectrum). But: I feel like across Natasha Pulley's books there is a pattern of female characters being killed off to further the narrative for the men, which I don't like at all, and it feels even more glaring in this book.

That said, this was absolutely one of my favourite books of the year and I can't wait to own a physical copy too 
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This book took me quite a long time to read (for me!) and even longer to compose my thoughts on but that didn’t mean that I didn’t like it: I definitely did. Pulley’s historical fantasy is just so far out of the genres I normally enjoy that I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it. I read the first book in this series, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, in 2016 (I keep good records of my reading!) and so I struggled a bit to remember what happened in it but I think this book could stand alone anyway. It follows the couple Thaniel and Mori (who is clairvoyant) as they travel from Victorian London to Mori’s homeland of Japan where there are unusual ghostly and electrical happenings going on. But while the plot and setting of Pepperharrow is entirely surreal, the novel is actually more concerned with how our decisions can impact lives beyond our own, and how a slight change in your life can take you on a totally different path, which I think is a completely universal concern.
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The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley

4-STARS

We're transported back to the fantastical, magical and surreal world of Filigree Street. A note to say, it's worth reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street before this one as it probably won't resonate as much without having read it. We're joined by our faithful coterie of characters we became attached to in the first book, except this time, we're following their journey's and their development on a greater level. 

Pulley has a mythical, dream-like quality to her writing that makes it simultaneously easy and time-consuming to read. There's sentences and turns of phrases that you want to pause over to appreciate; descriptions of people and places that recall  so vividly a picture, you'll be forgiven for thinking you're recalling a memory, rather than a story.

A must-read and an author that I'll continue to support and be delighted to see what she writes next.
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This was a great sequel to the Watchmaker of Filagree street and i loved how the new characters seemed to be introduced and built upon. The drama and action was fast-paced and i just could not put this down when the action got going. The setting and world-building was done well and it was explored in great detail. I enjoyed how the historical and fantasy elements came together in such a neat bow together that it made the whole book have an air of finis around it.
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A wonderful sequel to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, however this could be read quite happily without having read that. I really enjoyed reading this book, which I found enchanting and also very interesting, from a historical and scientific point of view, as well as being a great story. The characters were well developed and intriguing, with the story pulling the reader in sometimes quite unexpected directions.
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Amazing follow up to The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. Natasha Pulley is an amazing writer. Her historical details are mesmerizing, character development and the little bit of magic she puts into her books are great features. 
They are books every historical fiction fan should read! 
Thanks a lot to NG and the publisher for this copy.
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