Summary and book reviews of Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Angelmaker

A Novel

By Nick Harkaway

Angelmaker
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Mar 2012,
    496 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2012,
    496 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Joe Spork spends his days fixing antique clocks. The son of infamous London criminal Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, he has turned his back on his family's mobster history and aims to live a quiet life. That orderly existence is suddenly upended when Joe activates a particularly unusual clockwork mechanism. His client, Edie Banister, is more than the kindly old lady she appears to be - she's a retired international secret agent. And the device? It's a 1950s doomsday machine. Having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the British government and a diabolical South Asian dictator who is also Edie's old arch-nemesis.

On the upside, Joe's got a girl: a bold receptionist named Polly whose smarts, savvy and sex appeal may be just what he needs. With Joe's once-quiet world suddenly overrun by mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realizes that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she abandoned years ago and pick up his fathers old gun...

I

At seven fifteen a.m., his bedroom slightly colder than the vacuum of space, Joshua Joseph Spork wears a longish leather coat and a pair of his father’s golfing socks. Papa Spork was not a natural golfer. Among other differences, natural golfers do not acquire their socks by hijacking a lorryload destined for St. Andrews. It isn’t done. Golf is a religion of patience. Socks come and socks go, and the wise golfer waits, sees the pair he wants, and buys it without fuss. The notion that he might put a Thompson sub-machine gun in the face of the burly Glaswegian driver, and tell him to quit the cab or adorn it . . . well. A man who does that is never going to get his handicap down below the teens.

The upside is that Joe doesn’t think of these socks as belonging to Papa Spork. They’re just one of two thousand pairs he inherited when his father passed on to the great bunker in the sky, contents of a lock-up off Brick Lane. He returned as much of the swag as he ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

The basic theme of Angelmaker is familiar enough: a threat to the world must be nullified by an unlikely hero. In Nick Harkaway's hands, however, this simple storyline becomes something entirely unique and unexpected, defying easy classification. It's equal parts science fiction, gangster novel, absurdist comedy, spy story and government conspiracy novel, forming one zany, convoluted, literary three-ring circus where anything can happen. It's the kind of thing you'd expect to get if you dropped Doug Adams's perpetually bewildered Arthur Dent in the middle of a James Bond intrigue: utter mayhem.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review Members Only (1123 words).

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus
A puzzle box of a novel as fascinating as the clockwork bees it contains, filled with intrigue, espionage and creative use of trains. As if that were not enough to win my literary affection, Harkaway went and gave me a raging crush on a fictional lawyer.

Author Blurb William Gibson, author of Zero History
You are in for a treat, sort of like Dickens meets Mervyn Peake in a modern Mother London. The very best sort of odd.

Author Blurb Dexter Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion
A joyously sprawling, elaborately plotted, endlessly entertaining novel filled with adventure, comedy, espionage, and romance, Angelmaker also deals with intriguing questions of free will and the nature of truth without stopping to take a breath. As if the book is made of clockwork, the pages turn themselves.

The Observer (UK)

An ambitious, crowded, restless caper, cleverly told and utterly immune to précis. . . . A solid work of modern fantasy fiction.

The Independent (UK)

A magnificent, literary, post-pulp triumph. . . . Angelmaker is an entertaining tour-de-force that demands to be adored.

The Guardian (UK)

Angelmaker is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in ages...A joyful display of reckless, delightful invention...Once it gets going, it’s brilliantly entertaining, and the last hundred pages are pure, unhinged delight. What a splendid ride.

Library Journal

Harkaway repeats the sometimes funny sf-tinged thrillerish tone of his well-received debut, The Gone-Away World.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Endlessly inventive... the novel ends up being its own absurdist sendup of pulp story tropes and end-of-the-world scenarios. ...Harkaway makes his novel great fun on every page.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A touch early in the season for a beach book, though just the kind of thing to laugh at away from polite society. Top-notch.

Slate

A big, gleefully absurd, huggable bear of a novel. . . . A pleasantly roomy book, a grand old manor house of a novel that sprawls and stretches. . . . In passage after passage, Angelmaker opens up, making room for the reader, until we aren’t merely empathizing with Joe Spork’s plight but feeling it keenly.

Reader Reviews
Deborah N.

Layers and layers
"Angelmaker" is, as protagonist Joshua Joseph Spork scoffs, an exaggeratedly corny name for a doomsday machine powered by clockwork bees. But as we discover, everything about this story has a double meaning at least, and no one--not even ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Clockwork

At the heart of Angelmaker is an immensely intricate clockwork device. When we hear the word "clockwork" we generally think of old-fashioned non-digital timepieces. The term, however, refers to any mechanical device that uses a combination of springs and gears to function. In addition to wind-up watches and clocks, wind-up toys, old phonographs and traditional music boxes are all types of clockwork.

All clockwork mechanisms require some kind of power source, typically a weight or coiled spring. This stored energy is then translated into movement through one or more interlocking gear wheels; the release of energy is controlled using a device known in clocks and watches as an escapement, which is in turn connected to a regulating ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Angelmaker, try these:

  • American Gods jacket

    American Gods

    by Neil Gaiman

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    As unsettling as it is exhilarating, American Gods is a dark and kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an America at once eerily familiar and utterly alien.

  • Going Postal jacket

    Going Postal

    by Terry Pratchett

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Set in Pratchett's wonderfully crazed city of Ankh-Morpork, Going Postal hilariously reflects the plight of post offices the world over as they struggle to compete in an era when e-mail has stolen much of the glamour from the postal trade.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...
  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois
  2.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin

All Discussions

Who Said...

Never read a book through merely because you have begun it

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.