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Review: The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley

Updated: May 19

3/5 stars

Zachary is born in London in 1754 to Abel Cloudesley, a renowned clockmaker and inventor of automata machinery (mostly animals), and his wife, who dies in childbirth. Left with a newborn and a shop to run, Abel finds a wet nurse, Mrs. Grace Morley, to care for the child. The wife's Aunt Frances, eccentric and opinionated, also stays for a time while trying to convince Abel to let her take Zachary back to her home to raise him.

From day one Zachary is an odd child - solemn, rarely crying, and speaking his first word at barely one year old. As he grows older it is clear that he also has the gift of a "second sight," that allows him to see snapshots of a person's future if he touches them. Abel keeps his son close, allowing him to observe and even help out in the clockmaking shop, especially when Tom is there - a shy, young, extremely talented clock maker who takes a special interest in young Zachary. However, when an accident in the shop leaves Zachary with only one eye, Abel blames himself, and agrees to let Aunt Frances take Zachary in. Not long after, he is called away for a commission in Constantinople. While away, Zachary has visions of a ruined Abel returning to England, and when Abel goes missing, Zachary, Frances, and Tom travel to Constantinople to find him.

I really liked Mrs. Morley and Aunt Frances - both strong, at times obstinate, women - and Tom. But while Zachary is the title character, I found him to be a less engaging character. He was interesting only in relation to others. Lusk's descriptions of Constantinople, the sultan's palace (the seraglio), the sultan himself, and the kizlar agha (chief eunuch) were also a lot of fun. The story lost its way a little, but again, I stayed interested because of the many colorful secondary characters.

My only really big issue with the book is that I don't think Zachary's magical second sight added anything to the story. I can't think of anything that would have been different if he didn't have that ability, so ultimately it was unnecessary. But I suppose it makes for a good title.

At any rate, this book was a fun read, while not being particularly important.... I guess, like Zachary's second sight, it may not be necessary, but it doesn't do any harm either! Probably not what Lusk would hope for in a review, but it is his first novel, so there's room for improvement!


UP NEXT: Our Hideous Progeny, C.E. McGill

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