The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
Publication Date: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Page Count: 384 pages
Format: Finished Copy
Source: Publisher for review
Age: 9-10 and up - Some graphic images at the beginning as well as violence and scary elements throughout the story.
Goodreads | Books Inc.
Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar is a gorgeous debut set in a fantastical version of the gritty streets of London. The story follows the trials and tribulations of young Bartholomew, the Changeling. In a world where fairies roam the streets in plain sight, and Changelings are depolored by humans and the fae, Bartholomew must learn to face his fears and defeat his many enemies. The Peculiar boasts a magnificent story line and likable characters that will appeal to children and adults. I loved the terrifying world that Bachmann has created and I immediately fell in love with poor Bartholomew. Fans of fantasy, twisted fairy tales, and the darker side of the fae will enjoy this one!
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.
Bartholomew is just like most young children. He likes to play with his toys, he loves his younger sister, and he wants to see the world. The only problem is that he is allowed to be seen by anyone, ever. But Bartholomew is brave and when he's forced to leave the (somewhat) safety of his home, he does so with courage and intelligence. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Bartholomew overcome the obstacles that are thrown in his path over and over again; he really is a true hero. Even quiet Mr. Jelliby, a bumbling, idiotic adult who stays locked away in his home as much as he can manages to grow into a more appealing and courageous character. Both characters lean more about themselves and the world around them as they work together.
For being sixteen when he started The Peculiar, Bachmann puts the rest of us to shame. His writing abilities are spectacular, painting vivid images of this frightening world and bringing this entire city to life. The ideas are fresh, the world-building is realistic and horrifying, and the ease with which the plot moves along is elegant. There were some moments where things slowed down and may have moved too leisurely, but overall the story moves quickly and efficiently. I admit, I love a good bloody and graphic scene with bodies swinging from trees, and Bachmann leaves none of these scenes to the imagination. His descriptive language made me feel as if I were really there, watching lifeless corpses swinging from dead branches.
Overall, I loved Bachmann's The Peculiar. It's horrifying and fantastical and the juxtaposition between fantasy and reality with steampunk elements thrown in is perfect. I greatly appreciated that Bachmann refused to portray the fae in a positive light, giving us the true eleven creatures of old world mythology. I loved watching the two main characters grow throughout the story and learn to navigate this strange world they live in, and I can't wait to find out what Bachmann has in store for us next. There are some graphic and scary images that may not be suitable for children under nine.