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Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

TITLE: The Peculiar                               AUTHOR: Stefan Bachmann
PUB: Greenwillow Books                    PUB DATE: 9/18/12
SOURCE: from pub inexchange for honest review

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.

THREE WORDS: Enchanting & Whimsically Dark

MY REVIEW: I've been looking forward to reading Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar for awhile now, drawn to the intriguing steampunk and fantasy midde-grade premise, and I'm happy to report that it not only lived up to my expectations, but I really loved it as well!

Bartholomew Kettle and his little sister are changelings, half human and half fae children, and are knows as Peculiars. The siblings live with their mother in the faery slums of Bath and do everything they can to NOT be noticed. But when a mysterious lady in plum shows up on their street and takes the changeling boy across the street, Bartholomew gets noticed, and worse, he gets marked. When the lady in plum and a Raggedy Man take Bartholomew's sister he must risk everything to save her. With the help of a Arthur Jelliby, Bartholomew goes up against the lady in plum and a sinister faery to save his sister and maybe the whole world.

Stefan Bachmann has crafted a fantastically enchanting, deliciously and whimsically dark, and impressive debut. The Peculiar offers readers a spellbindingly original story with a thrilling mix of steampunk, mystery and gothic fantasy elements, and two endearing heroes.

The story is fast and excitedly paced and will easily hold the attention of even young readers. Bachmann is a superb writer and storyteller, with a refreshing, smart and witty voice, and he weaves a lyrical and magical tale. The world-building is stellar with a grand and vivid Victorian steampunk setting. The world Bachmann has laid out is richly layered and stunning. Even the dirty, stark faery slums hold a certain enchanting quality.

What drew me to this book initially was the fact that it was touted has a middle-grade steampunk, which I've never read before. And the steampunk elements are fantastic (and actually steampunk!) and incredibly innovative and imaginative, without being over the top. The clockwork gadgets and gizmos are pretty awesome! But it's not just a steampunk, it's a fun murder mystery and grand fantasy adventure too! There are plenty of thrilling twists and Bartholomew's adventures take him to some wildly unexpected and fascinating places. The fae elements are really fresh and unique. I love that the faeries aren't your cutesie Tinkerbells, but a myriad of sizes, colors, species and temperaments. There's an enthralling and eerie edge to these powerful and sometimes dangerous beings that make them an irresistible mix of captivating and chilling.

Bartholomew and Arthur Jelliby are really endearing and likable characters and they make a quirky pair. I really like the unexpected friendship that blossoms between young Bartholomew and the older Jelliby. I love a great villain and Bachmann has magicked up a wonderfully wicked villain with his character Mr. Lickerish. He's crafty, clever and scary in all the right ways.

Bartholomew and Arthur's journey and all of Mr. Lickerish's dastardly deeds all lead up to a shocking and climatic revelation and ending. The story begins with a boom that pulled me right in and ends with a cliffhangery bang that left me desperate for more.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: I love this MG book that kept me entertained and engrossed from beginning to end, and I'm so excited for the sequel. The Peculiar dazzles and sparkles with originality, fantastic writing and a story that will enchant readers of all ages!


Connect with the author: Site / Goodreads  / Twitter / Facebook
Stefan Bachmann is a writer and musician. He was born in Colorado and now lives with his family in Zurich, Switzerland, where he attends the Zurich Conservatory. He began writing The Peculiar in 2010, when he was sixteen years old.

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