The 13 Clocks

Publisher: NYRB Kids
Now in paperback

Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn’t go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke, and his niece, the Princess Saralinda. She was warm in every wind and weather, but he was always cold. His hands were as cold as his smile and almost as cold as his heart. He wore gloves when he was asleep, and he wore gloves when he was awake, which made it difficult for him to pick up pins or coins or the kernels of nuts, or to tear the wings from nightingales.

So begins James Thurber's sublimely revamped fairy tale, The 13 Clocks, in which a wicked Duke who imagines he has killed time, and the Duke’s beautiful niece, for whom time seems to have run out, both meet their match, courtesy of an enterprising and very handsome prince in disguise. Readers young and old will take pleasure in this tale of love forestalled but ultimately fulfilled, admiring its upstanding hero (“who yearned to find in a far land the maiden of his dreams, singing as he went…and possibly slaying a dragon here and there”) and unapologetic villain (“We all have flaws,” the Duke said. “Mine is being wicked”), while wondering at the enigmatic Golux, the mysterious stranger whose unpredictable interventions speed the story to its necessarily happy end.


The 13 Clocks took apart and lovingly reconstructed the fairy tale long before William Steig wrote Shrek or William Goldman penned The Princess Bride.” —Sonja Bolle, The Los Angeles Times

“There are spies, monsters, betrayals, hair’s-breadth escapes, spells to be broken and all the usual accouterments, but Thurber gives the proceedings his own particular deadpan
spin . . . It all makes for a rousing concoction of adventure, humor and satire that defies any conventional classification.” —William Joyce, author of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

“This dark and delightful fable mixes together all the ingredients of traditional tales . . . and comes up with a sublimelyentertaining concoction. . . . Thurber’s sly humor and shameless use of puns and wordplay make the story a joy to read out loud. And the suitably mysterious illustrations by Marc Simont add the perfect atmospheric touch to this unusual tale.” —Terri Schmitz, The Horn Book

“Rich with ogres and oligarchs, riddles and wit. What distinguishes it is not just quixotic imagination but Thurber’s inimitable delight in language. The stories beg to be read
aloud . . . Thurber captivates the ear and captures the heart.” —Newsweek

“The 13 Clocks, first published in 1950, still deserves its reputation as a modern classic, and ranks as one of Thurber’s finest works . . . .Thurber pioneers the postmodern, ironic fairy story.” —Publishers Weekly