February 2, 2013

Book Review: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Title: The Peculiar
Author: Stefan Bachmann

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Source: Received from the publisher for an honest review/blog tour
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.

My Thoughts

The Peculiar
is a beautifully written tale with a cast of strange and wonderful fey, but for all its imagery I found it a difficult story to read. It just didn't engage me, not the characters or the plot.

It is an interesting story, with interweaving plot lines full of mystery and intrigue, with a little political espionage thrown in too, but I felt that half of the story would go over the heads of its intended (middle school) audience and I found the character development to be rather weak.
The chapters jump points-of-view, mostly between that of Bartholomew and Mr Jelliby, which I felt added to the sense of disjointedness and lack of engagement, and the first five chapters felt flat and honestly didn't really hold my attention - but it did slowly improve.
I found Mr Jelliby to be a strange character to build the plot around and I was led to confusion by his description. In the blurb he is described as a young man, yet for the majority of the book he is portrayed as - and gives off - an elderly vibe which is later shown to be untrue when it is revealed he is a handsome young man; I just didn't get him as a hero at all.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed parts of The Peculiar, but overall I did find it to be rather a peculiar book to read. That being said, I think my 10 year old daughter will love this book!
3 out of 5 stars :]

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