NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: THE PECULIAR by Stefan Bachmann

Welcome to my first post chronicling the 2014 TBR Shelf. As I mentioned, I've set a goal to read (or attempt) all the books on the To Be Read Shelf in my office. There are 51. First up is a middle-grade fantasy called The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann (Greenwillow Books, 2012).
Goodreads summary:
Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.
In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.
One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.
First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.
Part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure, The Peculiar is Stefan Bachmann's riveting, inventive, and unforgettable debut novel.
Status: Finished January 18, 2014

My impressions:
Anyone who knows anything about my reading habits knows that I love middle-grade fiction, especially fantasy (I mean, I write it, after all). I'm also a sucker for a truly original twist on the old favorites as well as beautiful crafting of English prose. I swoon before a book that can do all three.

So yes, The Peculiar is swoon-worthy.

I love the details of this alternate-reality London, with its steam-powered carriages and slums full of faery folk. I could almost taste what Dickens called the city's "palpable brown air" (A Christmas Carol). I had a clear picture in my head of the kids, the lady in plum, the strange little houses and Parliamentary meetings where faery and human effect an uncomfortable co-existence. What a rich, fabulous world!
The plot moves along at a brisk pace, beginning as a bit of a mystery and racing along towards the end thriller-style as the honorable Mr. Jelliby and Bartholomew attempt a daring rescue. Things don't turn out as you might expect, which is why you'll want to race right out and get the sequel/companion novel called The Whatnot (Greenwillow, 2013).
About Stefan Bachmann: Stefan was born in Colorado and now lives in a hundred-year-old house outside of Zurich with his parents and siblings. He is a student of classical music at the Zurich Conservatory. He is currently working on a YA novel, Dead Man's Palace, due out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2015, and a story for an upcoming YA horror anthology, Slasher Girls and Monster Boys (Dial, 2015).

No comments:

Post a Comment