MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. I hope others will enjoy taking part in this too!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by A.M. Howell
Cover, inside illustrations & map by
Saara Katariina Söderlund
Published by Usborne

This book in three words:

MYSTERY, TIME, FRIENDSHIP

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

“My sincere apologies, Mr Westcott. And to you too, Miss Westcott,” Helena’s father said, throwing Helena a look which she interpreted to mean, Keep that parrot quiet or else.

I read A.M. Howell’s wonderful historical mystery, The Garden of Lost Secrets in July 2019, and absolutely loved it. I immediately bought The House of One Hundred Clocks when it was first published and am only sorry that it has taken me so long to read it as it is another brilliant historical mystery which I can highly recommend.

Helena’s father has accepted a position as a clock-winder for one of the wealthiest men in England, Mr Westcott. He has signed a contract stating that he must never let any of the clocks in the house stop; otherwise, there will be dreadful consequences. Helena is accompanied by her parrot, Orbit, who helps her to feel connected to her deceased mother.

It is not long before Helena finds herself in the midst of a mystery after discovering a warning hidden in a watch case. Will she be too late to stop the clocks winding down and sealing her family’s fate? This is a perfectly paced mystery that captured me completely as I followed Helena on her journey towards unravelling the secrets of the house, secrets embedded in a family’s grief, tragedy, fear and superstition. Why is Mr Westcott obsessed with the clocks never stopping? Who is leaving hidden notes and drawings? Is someone out to sabotage the clock-winders chances of keeping the clocks working?

I adored Helena who is such a sympathetic young girl. She has lost her mother and clings to her connection with her through her mother’s parrot, Orbit who can mimic the sound of her mother’s laughter: I found this incredibly poignant. She is curious, friendly and kind-hearted and is keen to do the right thing. I enjoyed the development of her friendship with Florence, Mr Westcott’s daughter. In different ways, both girls have lost connection to their fathers through their obsession with the clocks. They both have social consciences and are keen to right a wrong that has been committed.

As well as being an intriguing mystery, I really enjoyed the Edwardian setting: 1905 Cambridge, and the depiction of a changing society, from the changing role of women as they begin to fight for their rights to the protection of birds to the use of motor vehicles and the possibility of flight. There is also the depiction of an idyllic university town, perfect days out with picnics and punting along the river juxtaposed with the realities of life for many working class people including the reliance on the workhouse and living in crowded accommodation.

The House of One Hundred Clocks is an intriguing, heartfelt historical mystery with sympathetic characters and an evocative setting that completely entranced me from the opening pages. I am now really looking forward to reading the author’s next book, Mystery of the Night Watchers which is also set in the Edwardian era.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

11 thoughts on “MG Takes on Thursday

    1. I’ve thought about this! I think I preferred Garden too. It felt more intricate, the backdrop of War appealed and I really enjoyed the friendship between Clara and Will. I’m definitely looking forward to Mystery of the Night Watchers which definitely sounds intriguing. Just not sure whether to request it as I already have 7 waiting for me on my NetGalley shelf!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, very much my thoughts.
        And I know the feeling! I have only 4 unread (including that one!) but only because I’ve banned myself from looking further! But I’ve just found out another one I really want to read is on there and I’m desperately (but probably pointlessly) trying to resist!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mystery of the Night Watchers does sound fantastic and I am very tempted! Well done for the self-control but I mean, just one more? 😂 Have you requested Skyborn?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Haha! We’re all such enablers 😂
        No, as I wasn’t mad on Eye of the North (though I can’t remember why and wonder if I should give it/this another go…)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. We so are! 😂. OMG. I LOVED The Eye of the North. This was the book that made me start loving reading again so it will always be special for me. I’ve recently re-read but this time I was really focussed on Thing as I know Skyborn is his story. I’d love to read this book to a class but not sure about reading it to Year 4 although I am very tempted. Maybe I’ll be in upper school next year!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ah, that will make it special then. That’s ace. I don’t remember it well at all, do you think you need to read Eye of the North to read Skyborn?
        Do you think you’d like to go into Upper KS2?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Skyborn is a prequel so wouldn’t need to have read Eye of the North. Eye gives clues about Thing’s life before Emmeline and these are enough to make me very keen to read Skyborn. The main villain is the same, which explains Thing’s reaction to him in Eye which I didn’t pick up when I first read it. I did my NQT year in Year 6 and spent quite a few years there, including leading the Year Group, before moving to Year 4. I love Year 6 and the current Year 5s are my lockdown class from last year who I would love to teach again as I missed out on so much with them. I still have reading chats with some of them.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Oh sounds like it would be a nice move back to Yr 6 if you could next year then! My mum taught UKS2 for YEARS and spent most of that in Yr 6. She loved it too. I was always the opposite – down in eyfs ‘playing’!!

        You’re making me think I need to give Eye another go… I don’t know when I possibly can but I think I will!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Fingers crossed! I have the utmost respect for EYFS – I spent half a day there in my PGCE – incredibly skilled teachers having an impact at a really crucial stage of children’s development. It just drained me more than a week in Year 6! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.