In nineteenth-century Oxford, an extraordinary child is born – Edgar Jones, a porter’s son with a magical talent. Though his father cannot see beyond his academic slowness, his abilities as a metalworker and designer are quickly noticed, and become a source of tension within the family. When Edgar comes to the attention of a maverick professor at work on a museum of the natural sciences, Edgar is at once plucked from obscurity and plunged into the heart of a debate which threatens to tear apart the university. Edgar’s position is a dangerous one – will he be able to control the rebellious spirit that fires his inventiveness, but threatens to ruin him, and to break up his family once and for all?
It’s actually quite hard to capture this book within a ‘blurb’, as it has a style all of it’s own. It’s set in a world where The University is everything.. a world of learning that is in control of Oxford, and is looked up to by all. In awe of all the University stands for is Edgar’s father, and to him, a successful, loveable son is one with academic ability, which Edgar lacks.
One thing that Edgar does have is a fierce determination, and without the appropriate guidance from his parents, this often pushes him towards trouble. He looks up to certain people, and when they fail him, you can feel the way it hurts him.
The book has the feel of a dark, grown up fairytale. At the beginning the style does feel a little difficult, but I soon settled into it, and it became a story I couldn’t wait to get back to. The characters are well written and memorable, and I couldn’t help but love some, and dislike others. This is an unusual book that will stay with me for some time.