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The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Borzoi Books)
Synopses & Reviews
FIRSTLY: dont touch the hands of your cuckoo-clock heart. SECONDLY: master your anger. THIRDLY: never, ever fall in love. For if you do, the hour hand will poke through your skin, your bones will shatter, and your heart will break once more.
Edinburgh, 1874. Born with a frozen heart, Jack is near death when his mother abandons him to the care of Dr. Madeleine—witch doctor, midwife, protector of orphans—who saves Jack by placing a cuckoo clock in his chest. And it is in her orphanage that Jack grows up among tear-filled flasks, eggs containing memories, and a man with a musical spine.
As Jack gets older, Dr. Madeleine warns him that his heart is too fragile for strong emotions: he must never, ever fall in love. And, of course, this is exactly what he does: on his tenth birthday and with head-over-heels abandon. The object of his ardor is Miss Acacia—a bespectacled young street performer with a soul-stirring voice. But now Jacks life is doubly at risk—his heart is in danger and so is his safety after he injures the school bully in a fight for the affections of the beautiful singer.
Now begins a journey of escape and pursuit, from Edinburgh to Paris to Miss Acacias home in Andalusia. Mathias Malzieus The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is a fantastical, wildly inventive tale of love and heartbreak—by turns poignant and funny—in which Jack finally learns the great joys, and ultimately the greater costs, of owning a fully formed heart.
"Set in late-19th-century Europe, this slim, melancholy, and sometimes thin novel affords considerable escapist pleasures. At 14, Jack, a misfit orphan with a cuckoo-clock installed in his chest, treks across Europe in search of Miss Acacia, 'a little singer... who's always bumping into things,' he met four years before. In Paris, he finds a companion in Mlis, a lovesick, quixotic magician, and as their journey unfolds, Malzieu sketches European landscapes and crafts figurative language with irresistible relish: Miss Acacia's laugh, for instance, is 'as light as beads tumbling over a xylophone.' After Jack reaches Spain and finds Miss Acacia, he embarks on a tumultuous relationship with his beloved that will alter his life forever. Despite a few too-cutesy sexual metaphors and coming-of-age tropes, the novel's sentimentality only rarely devolves into treacle. Calling to mind a host of cultural touchstones, from Pinocchio to The Wizard of Oz, this kaleidoscopic picaresque will enchant many adults and young people alike." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Mathias Malzieu is the lead singer of the French band Dionysos. The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart is the basis for an album that Malzieu wrote, and he is codirector of an animated feature-film adaptation optioned by Luc Besson. This is his third novel and the first to be translated into English. Born in 1974 near Montpelier, Malzieu now lives in Paris.
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