Monday, October 18, 2010

"It's snowing over Edinburgh on this 16th day of April, 1874."

One of my read-a-thon books was The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu -- a petite book with a small tale inside.  Celia passed this book on to me after not quite connecting with it.  She went into it with certain expectations and was let down when she got something different.  Knowing this helped me to go in with a clean slate and I found the book charming if a bit forced in parts.

Simply, Jack is the abandoned son of a Scottish prostitute who almost dies at birth from a frozen heart.  The woman who delivers him ingeniously keeps his heart moving with the help of the mechanism from a cuckoo-clock.  As Jack grows, he must learn to accept the limitations of his heart or risk destroying its delicate balance.  Of course, true love enters his life early with the Flamenco-dancing Acacia and he puts his life on the line for her love.

Malzieu is a French musician -- lead singer of the band Dionysos.  I hadn't heard his music when I started the book but part way through, when I felt comfortable with his written voice, I went to find out what his real voice was like.  It was exactly as I had imagined, deep and bassy with a sense of sarcasm underneath.  There is a companion album to this book (in a mix of French and English) by the band that sounds like a mix between a Tim Burton soundtrack and Portishead with a French pop twist.  In fact, there is an animated film of this tale in the works which is slated to be released next year.

Parts of this story are crude and others are touchingly sweet.  It won't appeal to everyone but it's certainly a unique little book that I'm sure will become a cult favorite.  Here is a sampling of songs from the album (very strong language warning!).

Going the distance for love,

Support our site and buy The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart on Amazon or find it at your local library.  We received our copy from the lovely Celia.  I'm not sure how she got it.


  1. I ended up giving this a 3/5 - its appealled as it was so sweet but not brilliant. I agree with your review but I haven't listened to the music yet.

  2. It does sounds like a "cult" book. I love that there is a music to go with it. You don't find that often.

  3. This looks very interesting. I like the cover.

  4. Jessica - Exactly. I think the music was a nice atmosphere setter and I probably should have listened to it first!

    Jenners - It was unique, especially since it was written by a musician. I liked that he worked his two interests together.

    Paige - It's a wonderful cover. I wonder if they will use that style drawing in the movie.