When Heinrich the writer starts to tell his new story of clockwork princes, mysterious philosophers and a fiendish puzzle, even he is not sure of how it will end.
A gothic thriller from Pullman (Count Karlstein, p. 971, etc.). In the White Horse tavern, the townspeople gather one winter night to drink and hear the latest from Fritz the storyteller, who is hoping that the ending will come to him as he tells it. Among the listeners is Karl, the clockmaker's apprentice, who faces humiliation the next day when it will be revealed that he has failed to create a new figure for the town clock. To Fritz's horror, in the middle of his story, one of his characters, the evil clockmaker Dr. Kalmenius, appears; as Fritz and the others abandon the tavern, Dr. Kalmenius offers Karl a superb clockwork figure, Sir Ironsoul, which upon hearing the word "devil," will stab the speaker in the throat. This is only the winding up of an intricate little novel, which ticks along to a gratifying conclusion that is more fable than fantasy. Gore's atmospheric, impressionistic black-and-white drawings and the workings of Pullman's fertile, Victorian imagination have been cultivated to a degree that will entrance middle graders. (Kirkus Reviews)