Review: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
Published September 18th 2012 by Greenwillow Books
ARC received from the publisher
The Peculiar is a MG aged story; but one in the Harry Potter tradition. Even though the characters might be harder to relate to for an older audience, the plot and world is interesting enough to keep the non-middle graders perfectly engaged.
The Peculiar is set in a Victorian-like age where the faeries have run rampant in a historical happening called the Smiling War, after all the grinning skulls. Bartholomew is a changeling, half faery child, half human. When one day a lady in a plum-coloured dress takes away his friend, he is launched into an adventure he never asked for.
I very much enjoyed The Peculiar and the wonderful writing. It could be quite stiff at times, but also had its moments of brilliance that are a pleasure to read. It helps that the story is very imaginative and colourful, and quite unique in execution. Bachmann has a great take on faeries, even though I sometimes had a hard time picturing some of his more interesting creatures.
For the thrill-addicted reader this might not be the right book, but in my experience steampunk or any historically inspirated novel rarely is suitable for that reader. It takes a little while for the tension to build in The Peculiar, but I quite enjoyed the little introduction into the world before the story really takes off. It might seem as a wild goose chase from time to time, but in the end everything ties up together quite nicely.
For me The Peculiar was a breath of fresh air in quite a clouded and musty genre. It’s not perfect as the author sometimes gets carried away with his wild fantasies, but a very promising debut novel. I’m looking forward to the next instalment of Barthelomew’s adventures!
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.
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