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The Lost Future of Pepperharrow


The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

London, December 1888. Thaniel Steepleton is working at the Foreign Office when he finds out that he is going to be posted to the British legation in Tokyo. It is an unexpected posting, one that also comes with an odd assignment. The staff at the legation are seeing ghosts, and he needs to determine what is going on. Part of his task is to find out if the ghosts are real or imagined. When Keita Mori, the watchmaker with whom he shares his life, announces that he has business that will be taking him home to Yokohama, Thaniel beings to look forward to the trip. Together with their daughter, Six, they leave for Japan.

Since Thaniel doesn’t need to be at his post for a few weeks, he and Six accompany Mori to his home. While at Mori’s family estate, Thaniel finds several surprises. The first is Mori’s wife, Takiko Pepperharrow. The second is that something is very wrong with Mori. A clairvoyant who can remember the future, Mori is having trouble being in the present, as though everything he can see and experience in the future is happening all at once now. He is disappearing both mentally and physically before Thaniel’s eyes. The third surprise is that the ghosts are real.

"I am a sucker for a ghost story, and I loved the way that Natasha Pulley made the ghosts real and an integral part of the novel.... Pully has created an amazing world in THE LOST FUTURE OF PEPPERHARROW."

Thaniel and Six move to the legation in Tokyo, where he finds a terrified and disturbed staff. Not only are they seeing ghosts, the weather has turned oddly electrical with everyday objects, such as watches and doorknobs, becoming impossible to deal with and setting everyone on edge. In addition to the trouble in Tokyo, Mori goes missing and Thaniel begins to wonder if this is all part of Mori’s future planning and scheming to shape the present. Thaniel, who knows Mori’s heart very well, cannot imagine how all this will turn out and is slightly worried about how the present will react to the future. When things get dire, he grows concerned that Mori is in real trouble, and though he is scared, he tries to believe that everything he is going through is part of Mori’s grand plan.

THE LOST FUTURE OF PEPPERHARROW is the sequel to THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET. I was thrilled to be reintroduced to Thaniel and Mori and the future that Mori seems to shape for those he loves. Their relationship is delicate and lovely, and in so many ways reflects who they both are --- fragile yet determined individuals willing to fight for those they love. They have shaped their family much the same way with Six, an extraordinary child who does not fit in with the world around her but does so perfectly in Thaniel and Mori’s life.

I am a sucker for a ghost story, and I loved the way that Natasha Pulley made the ghosts real and an integral part of the novel. The fear they elicit and what they represent is a direct manifestation of the feelings present in Japanese society in 1888 toward foreigners. The introduction of the ghosts is terrifying and fascinating at the same time. Their appearance illustrates a future, past and present colliding in an electrified space not meant to exist. Pulley makes that space very believable, so much so that it is difficult to put the book down. At times, it is a love story, a story about a family doing their best, a ghost story, and a science experiment gone awry.

Pully has created an amazing world in THE LOST FUTURE OF PEPPERHARROW. I was so glad to once again spend time with these characters and look in on Thaniel, Mori and their family.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on February 28, 2020

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow
by Natasha Pulley