Clockwork, or All Wound Up
London, Corgi, 1996, 92p
Clockwork is one of the novels the year seven read towards the end of the academic year. I am pretty sure I have read it before, but as I reread, I was delighted that I couldn't remember it, so got to enjoy it all over again.
In a small German town, everyone is buzzing with excitement about the new figure that will appear in the clock tomorrow. An apprentice clock maker is coming to the end of his training, and tradition dictates he must add his own touch to the town timepiece. But Karl is not ready - he has not managed to create anything, so he sits in the Tavern listening to the dark and terrible tales of the local storyteller.
And when one of the so-called characters of the story arrives in the Tavern, a man who some say is the devil, it becomes clear that the wind up figures might be more than they first appear.
Pullman's short story explores some complex ideas about good and evil, and about the power of pure love. It draws on tropes from traditional fairy tales, with murder and death contrasted against the innocence of a child, wrapped in a moral about having a good soul.
But it is also surprisingly haunting - I haven't read a gothic tale like this in some time, and expect to find myself having some weird dreams tonight...