ABOUT THE BOOK
In 1754, renowned maker of clocks and automata Abel Cloudesley must raise his new-born son Zachary when his wife dies in childbirth.
Growing up amongst the cogs and springs of his father’s workshop, Zachary is intensely curious, ferociously intelligent, unwittingly funny and always honest – perhaps too honest. But when a fateful accident leaves six-year-old Zachary nearly blinded, Abel is convinced that the safest place for his son is in the care of his eccentric Aunt Frances and her menagerie of weird and wonderful animals.
So when a precarious job in Constantinople is offered to him, Abel has no reason to say no. A job presented to him by a politician with dubious intentions, Abel leaves his son, his workshop and London behind. The decision will change the course of his life forever.
Since his accident, Zachary is plagued by visions that reveal the hearts and minds of those around him. A gift at times and a curse at others, it is nonetheless these visions that will help him complete a journey that he was always destined to make – to travel across Europe to Constantinople and find out what happened to his father all those years ago.
With a Dickensian cast of characters that are brilliantly bonkers one moment and poignant the next, Sean Lusk’s debut will take readers on an immersive journey into the wonders of the world of Zachary Cloudesley.
This story felt like I was reading a classic. The opening chapter is one of tragedy as when Zachary Cloudsley enters the world, his mother leaves it. His father, Abel is grief-stricken, in need of a wet nurse for his son, and has a business to run. Enter the wonderful and straight-talking Mrs Morley and her baby daughter Leonora. Both to become larger than life characters in the story. I laughed so much at this pair.
Zachary is like a sponge soaking up everything around him, curious, bright and a child far beyond his years. Abel is the owner of a company that makes unusual clocks and life-like creatures that move. His workforce is loyal, and employment there is something to be treasured. Tom is a first-class worker with secrets that Abel is unaware of, all Abel sees is that Tom is bright and a hard worker.
When a life-changing accident happens to Zachary, Abel blames himself but, it leaves Zachary with yet another gift, one where he can see the future. To protect his son Abel makes a bad choice that is jumped upon by someone in high government and puts Abel in a terrible position.
I was mesmerised by this whole story, Zachary and his second sight and the inventions that were part of his life. There are so many personal stories going on in the book. Yet because each of these characters is so unique, it never became overpowering or confused.
I liked how when a new character appeared, so did a description of them. It cemented each one in my mind straight away. The story isn’t just set in England, it travels much further through a perilous Europe. The weeks and months that it took kept me rooted in the 1700s. These days we forget just how big the world is.
I could read this book over and over and still be thrilled and terrified with the inventions and welcome each character back into my life again. A fabulous timeless story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I wish to thank the publisher and Net Galley for an e-copy of this book, which I have reviewed honestly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’ve spent too many years trying to find satisfaction, joy or simple distraction in the many things we can do with our lives other than writing, but I’ve always returned to the page, to my attempts to capture imagined voices and make them as real as I can. There is a strange ecstasy in the act of turning the imagined into the frail reality of words.
I’ve won the Manchester Fiction Prize, the Fish Short Story Prize, the Cambridge Short Story Prize and won second prize in the Bridport Short Story competition. I’m persistent, you see. That’s what it takes, above all things. Persistence.
My favourite short story writers are Grace Paley and Nikolai Gogol, Richard Ford and Sarah Hall, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver (a bit inevitable, old Raymond), Lorrie Moore, Richard Rash, Anton Chekhov and more others than it seems entirely sensible to go on to list.
I am more pleased than I can say to have found a wonderful agent in @davidhheadley of DHH literary agency. My novel, The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley will be published by Doubleday in June 2022.