Clockwork Game: The Illustrious Career of A Chess-Playing Automaton by Jane Irwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Absolutely awesome. A fascinating historical fiction that runs from the mid 1700s to the 1850s as it chronicles the fascinating "life" of a sideshow attraction billed as a clockwork automaton that could play chess by itself. Crossing paths with famous people throughout this time period from the German Empress Maria Theresea to Napoleon Bonaparte to Edgar Allan Poe, this makes for riveting reading. I'm well-read in the Victorian Era, and while this mainly takes place before that time, I'm still surprised I'd never heard of it before. This curiosity held people fascinated with whether it was real or fake for 85 years! Irwin has written a truly epic graphic novel that contains so much intriguing historical details and a fascinating plot that keeps even the reader guessing until the reveal (for one who doesn't know the historical outcome). The artwork is incredibly detailed and a pleasure to behold, making the reading go at a pace slow enough to thoroughly take in the illustration. I was completely satisfied when I'd completed the story to only find an incredibly rich page by page "Notes" section that contains detailed historical annotations and author's input on where she took artistic license and where regrettably she had to leave some parts of the story out. This is an adult book but is sure to be a hit with ages teen and older.
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