Clockwork, or All Wound Up by Phillip Pullman (published by Doubleday)

Introduced by Anne Brichto of Addyman Books


It is October and Halloween is nearly upon us so I have been enjoying some very spooky posts and also thinking about the books that have really scared me. There are quite a few – Michelle Paver, John Fowles, Stephen King, M. R. James, a couple by Saki but as I’ve mentioned in a couple of comments, Clockwork by Phillip Pullman utterly terrified me. I was living in my own for the first time in years when I read it one evening – it is very short – and I couldn’t believe how much this children’s book scared me. I was frightened right to my core and I could hardly move from my bed afterwards though I wanted a cup of herbal tea! I had been spellbound.

We have had this signed copy in stock for 14 years. He came into our Addyman’s Annexe bookshop during a Hay Festival and signed a few books for us. I liked his Northern Lights trilogy but did not love it. There were odd cold bits that bothered me, pieces of politics I couldn’t even take as fiction and the end of the third book was dulling and a bit weak. Still the man himself was funny and intelligent, his imagination is phenomenal and his writing, especially in his shorter, less hyped books can be mesmerising – as I found in Clockwork.

My daughter and I returned from a walk and discovered Mr A had left his newest skeleton minding the shop holding this book with a note propped up by it pointing out that it had taken 14 years to sell. You play a long term game in the world of old books which I like. Some books are almost like part of the family and when they sell after twenty years of being on our shelves you miss them. I will certainly miss this one – it still makes me shiver. The illustrations by Peter Bailey are wonderful and made me think of how a collaboration between Mervyn Peake and Edward Ardizzone would look. 


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