This absorbing story follows on from “The Watchmaker of Filigree Street,” but can easily be read as a stand- alone. It is an Historical Fantasy, set mostly in Japan, in the 1880s. The timeline weaves back and forth but mostly over a ten- year period. This makes it easy to adjust to and is used as a back story to explain circumstances.
The characters are absorbing and wonderfully portrayed. Mori is the wealthy Japanese clairvoyant who was a Samurai. He “Remembers the future.” Because he is heavily involved in International Politics, and has this gift, he needs to take some drastic actions, (organising murder, being one.)
Thaniel is his English friend and lover. He works for the Foreign Office and is being posted to Tokyo. He, like Mori, has a huge intellect. Together, while in England, they adopt a young orphan girl from the Workhouse, and she is also incredibly gifted and unusual.
The trio move to Japan and stay at Mori’s mansion where Thaniel is startled to meet Mori’s wife Ms Pepperharrow. What an amazing back story she has! Also, at the house is the Japanese Prime Minister, who has to negotiate a strategy for the flotilla of Russian ships off the coast. Danger from invasion is real, and Mori is seen to be an important cog in the decisions made to avoid war.
Thaniel moves to the Foreign Office to begin his work, but strange forces are at play here. The servants complain about ghosts who appear when a fire is lit. They are terrified. Thaniel is sympathetic, but when he is startled awake and finds a sooty handprint on his shirt, he sees the need for immediate action. To complicate matters, all metal objects begin to heat up until material or skin burns when making contact. This is felt to be due to the proximity of Mt Fuji, which is quite active.
If you enjoy a story with a complex plot, vibrant settings, elusive magic, supernatural overtones and a dynamic cast of characters, then you will relish this book. The prose is strong, direct and energetic, but often a wry twist will force a chuckle. This book is a keeper, one to be picked up again and again.