Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart By Mathias Malzieu

Spring is finally here, and love is in the air. How about a rousing love story in which a physically heartless boy and a practically blind, singing bird girl stumble through romance?

Originally released in France, the English translation of The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart was released in America this March. Jack, the boy born on the "coldest day ever," comes into the world with a bum heart. Dr. Madeleine, mechanical conjurer and accused witch, fixes the failing infant by attaching an old cuckoo clock to the boy's chest. But, with renewed life comes a slate-engraved warning that falling in love is dangerous to Jack's weak heart. Of course, the next logical plot twist is that our ragamuffin hero falls in love.

Miss Acacia refuses to wear her glasses, but sings with a voice that resembles "beads tumbling over a xylophone." Jack is possessed by her beauty. Fate tears the young pair apart, setting Jack on a journey across Europe to find the little bird girl.

On his journey, he encounters a motley crew including Jack the Ripper, a side-show entrepreneur, and an illusionist-cum-wannabe filmmaker who befriends the lost little boy. Méliès, Jack's new friend, encourages the young man and presumes to teach him how to "tame a shooting star." Certainly not aiding his quest is Joe, the beast of a man who also loves Miss Acacia.

Shockingly poetic prose coupled with a fantastical adventure catapult this book into a magical read. You can't help but sigh over the beautiful, inventive, and poignant description of the characters and the blossoming romance.

Is all the spring fever making you gag? Fear not! Humor and a touch of absurdity pepper the story in such a way that even the most cynical reader can be drawn in. A carrier pigeon that keeps losing letters home? Delivering a bouquet of glasses in place of roses? Scaring as a form of seduction? Ridiculous added details bring something to the table for any one.

Short and sweet, if you're in the mood for a quick but gripping read, this might be the one for you. If you like the fantastic plot of this story, you may also like The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

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