Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publication: September 18th, 2012 by HarperCollins/Greenwillow
Audiobook provided by publisher
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.
Mystery and magic interweave into this fascinating middle grade debut!
What’s Hidden in the Faery Slums?
One of the interesting things about The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, is the way history and fantasy are blended together in a Steampunk-esque fashion. Barty Kettle and his sister Hettie live sad, shut in lives in this rebooted, Victorian version of Bath. In a story reminiscent of Anne Frank, hidden away by their mother who fears for their lives should anyone find out that they’re changlings, Peculiars – half-human/half-fey – the children live their lives trying desperately never to be noticed. But when Barty’s only friend, the boy across the lane who occasionally waves to him, is kidnapped, Barty is noticed by the kidnapper and both he and his sister become targets.
Magic, Machines and Madness
Meanwhile, Arthur Jelliby, member of Parliament and general, genial slacker becomes entangled in the story when he inadvertently learns the mad secrets of Mr. Lickerish, the head of the Queen’s privy council. Reluctantly he finds himself traveling to Bath to prevent more changlings from being murdered and the story rolls through twist and turns to it’s ultimate, breathless cliffhanger!
Solid Middle Grade Fare with a Twist at the End
I liked the characters in this story. I enjoyed the mystery and adventure and the world Stefan Bachmann created, but there were points at the beginning that I found it a tad formulaic. Still, I give him extra credit for such a daring ending and will definitely read the next book in the series.
Entertaining characters and great world building which culminate in a killer cliffhanger make this Middle Grade story a sure to please read!
Get your own Audiobook at audible: The Peculiar (unabridged, 7hrs 35min)
I loved narrator, Peter Altschuler’s, accents and his ability to bring both a small girl and an ancient high faery to life with them. The audiobook is superbly crafted and even comes with music specific to the book, a nice treat at the end. If you like audiobooks, this one is for you!
Now go and get lost…in a book!