Staff Review: Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Reviewed by Sophie

I loved Nick Harkaway ‘s debut, The Gone-Away World; it was bold, and silly, and funny, and over-the-top, and I still think of it often (and must thank Hayley for pointing me in the right direction). I was really excited last year when I found out there was a second book coming, and had been awaiting it with bated breath.

Happily, it suffers none of that Second Book Syndrome you sometimes see. Angelmaker is also wild and bold and silly, but still different from his first novel. The story centers around Joshua Joseph Spork, antique clockmaker in modern times, a large but soft man who tries very much to ignore his heritage. Regrettably, when your father was King of the London Underworld, this is easier said than done. He is given a mechanical book to repair, an ingenious device that turns out to be the key to a possible Doomsday machine – the Angelmaker of the title.

Let’s just say the rest of the story features geriatric superspies, evil villains with more than a few tricks up their sleeves, horrible torture, bold receptionists with a penchant for freight trains, a crafts movement turned to the dark side, French mathematical geniuses, the Night Market, Joe discovering surprising but very welcome sides to himself, and an evil wheezing little dragon of a dog – all written with a wonderful use of the English language. The story is too involved to say more without spoiling things. Just read it, that’s all I can say. 🙂

Harkaway is also one of the very few authors that make me laugh out loud. There are many that move me, and a few that make me cry, but laughter, now, is a different story. He manages it, though.

I can’t really compare him to another novelist that I’ve read. The only book that has some resonance – for me – is Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair. His style does remind me of the good Guy Ritchie movies, though. If you adore those, you will also adore Harkaway’s books, I’m sure!