The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu

Synopsis: Edinburgh, 1874. On the coldest night the world has ever seen, Little Jack is born with a frozen heart and immediately undergoes a life-saving operation. But Dr Madeleine is no conventional medic and surgically implants a cuckoo-clock into his chest. Little Jack grows up different to other children: every day begins with a daily wind-up. At school he is bullied for his ‘ticking’, but Dr Madeleine reminds him he must resist strong emotion: anger is far too dangerous for his cuckoo-clock heart. So when the beautiful young street-singer, Miss Acacia, appears – pursued by Joe, the school bully – Jack is in danger of more than just falling in love… he is putting his life on the line.

Review: I have heard about the novel for years, but it’s true that when the movie came out and when I saw all these nice reviews, I was once again intrigued but ultimately I did not read or seen anything. Yet I still have to thank Céline which allowed me to discover this little book as it was pleasure to read it.

The first thing that first struck me is the writing of the author. Oh yes, because it is very rich and melodious and it was interesting to read the whole thing. I confess that when I saw the various translations, I wondered if that style would able to be shown in the novels. In all cases it is a treat to advance in the chapters and to follow the pen of the author.

Thus we follow a young boy from his birth until he becomes a man. This child is born with a frozen heart and the midwife who takes care of him, saved him by implementing a clock instead. Thus he survives but remains different from any other children. The isolation in which he lives is a fairly complicated life for a little boy who dreams of traveling all around the world. But during his first night in town, he falls in love with a girl. Ah terrible dilemma … especially when Madeleine, the one who repaired him, explains that this is something forbidden because his heart could not bear too much emotions. Yet, despite the warnings, Jack does not manage to remove this little singer from his mind and hope to find her at any cost.

The story is not very long and is ultimately fairly quick to read, but we discover Jack, his feelings, his doubts, his unconditional love for this girl he does not really know and everything is very touching. We start with him on an adventure, we try to understand him and in the end I must admit that I was surprised more than once. We learn some revelations that the boy has some trouble to accept and we did not expect that. It was a very nice story, although I might have liked to know more about the fate of this man after all he had endured but we also understand that the story must end like that.

A good discovery, different and exciting.




27 thoughts on “The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu

  1. Looks like a middle grade read, but it’s one of those that transcends age brackets I think? I’ll look up the movie, is it animated? From the cover art it looks like it’ll be fun to watch

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