Penulis/Author: Philip Pullman (1996)
Ilustrasi/Illustrator: Peter Bailey (1996)
Penerbit/Publisher: Corgi Yearling
Cetakan/Edition: 1st, 2004
Have you any old clock that has to be wound up to make it work? It’s probably one from your grandparents’ generation or ones made for decorative purpose. I am a watches/clocks-addict, I simply bought them because of their looks. I have some watches/clocks that have to be wound up to keep them going and yes they are a beauty and a hassle both. This book is probably too short to be called a novel but a slightly longer than a short story. Once the story is rolled on, like a clockwork with its million of mechanical pieces, it goes one way and no turning back.
Tonight is the last night for Karl before he can claim to be a clockmaker. By ten o’clock tomorrow morning, to complete his apprenticeship, he has to show everyone the new figure he would put on the old Glockenheim clock. Every clockmaker in town did this on their time and the great clock has now some famous figures in it from Michael Archangel to the Death Skeleton. But Karl is not happy. He has nothing at all for the big day, no ideas, nothing. Sitting at the town pub grumpily, he scowls at everyone.
Leaving Karl and his misery alone, everyone at the pub turns to Fritz the story reader. Every night he will read a story to the people there and they love the thrills from his writing. For tonight he has written a story about Prince Otto and his son Prince Florian. The story goes like this:
At one windy, snowy and cold night, the royal carriage returned to the palace from a hunting journey with a mad-man on the driving seat. It was Prince Otto, he looked white and dead but his right hand kept moving ups and downs like a clockwork. Inside the carriage, Prince Florian was wrapped unharmed. The rumour said the genius Dr. Kalmeius knows more than anyone else what happened that night. The rumour also said, Dr. Kalmeius is so good because he has made a contract with the devil.
Before Fritz finished his story, suddenly the mysterious Dr. Kalmeius appears at the pub’s door! Everyone flew the pub in instance. To be honest, Fritz didn’t have an ending to the story yet, he thought he was going to make it while telling the story itself. Besides, what harm could an unfinished story do? The answer is a lot!
As said before, if there is a tick, there will be a tock! Once a clock is wound up, it will go forward until the next time it has to be re-wound up. Once a story is written, an ending should be made. Fritz promised his soul to the devil and now he refuses to finish the story. Karl is seeking for a shortcut to fame, he refuses to be humiliated. He bypassed all the goodness taught to him. Is there anyone at all to help Prince Florian from his falling off clockwork body? The answer lays with Gretl, the little girl with the warmest heart.
I am not sure if I have revealed too much or have ruined the story with my cheesy synopis, but trust me, this book is a masterpiece! I was speechless, a little terrified, a bit confused but very excited at the same time. It feels so real, I even browsed the net to check if there is a real clock called Glockenheim in Germany! It is so easy to make a contract with the devil, but it’s not easy to get out from that. Make your choice wisely. Click here to read the excerpt. Pullman also made some cheeky comments on the illustrated side notes, mostly cynically funny. One statement that hits me with a nervous laugh: Karl didn’t succeed because he was too afraid to fail. Sounds familiar… *pointing an index finger to myself*