In a time not that distant from our own, in a city on the East Coast of America, three children are faced with burdens and challenges that would stagger many adults. Their search to find answers—in the extraordinary and in each other—is the quest at the core of Matthew J. Kirby’s marvelous debut novel, The Clockwork Three.

Guiseppe is an 11-year-old orphan who works as a busker—a street musician—for a cruel and merciless padrone. He stands on corners playing his violin, hoping to earn enough money to be spared a beating by his master, dreaming of a way to escape and return to his home in Italy. Frederick works as an apprentice to a watchmaker, hoping to open a shop of his own someday. Hannah has given up school to work as a maid in the city’s fanciest hotel. While each one’s plight seems far removed from the others, they will soon meet, and their lives will be inextricably intertwined.

Kirby paints the New England backdrop of his story as meticulously as an artist dabbling in oils—when Guiseppe finds an enchanted violin washed ashore in the wake of a terrible storm, you can almost smell the fish and salt water in the air. The well-drawn cast of characters brings heart and humanity to this winning tale of hardship, magic and adventure.


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