Title: The Peculiars
Author: Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Pages: Hardcover; 354
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Nothing of Note
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a mix of steampunk and historical themed fiction.
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This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance.
On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.
I'm generally a big fan of steampunk novels, and so I was excited to read The Peculiars. Although, it didn't turn out to be quite what I expected. This was a book that held my attention for the most part, but was really missing something also. Slow at parts, I almost didn't make it through. Still, at the end of the day I'm glad that I did.
Lena's an okay main character. She's flawed in a lot of ways, which makes her equal parts lovable and infuriating. Raised to be constantly worried about her odd hands and feet, Lena has a lot of misconceptions about the world around her. She believes that she may be part goblin, and that her father was too. I have to praise this young character for her perseverance! Lena doesn't give up.
The premise of the plot was interesting, but the pacing was what really hindered the ready for me. There are portions that move so slowly while Lena tries to figure out who to trust, that it makes it hard to follow her. Lena is, if nothing else, a bit naive at times. However towards the end of the book so much happens all at once! Amazing inventions, fantastic discoveries, all in a matter of days. I wish it would have been more spaced out.
I truly believe that if the world building had just been a little more vivid, and the characters a little more fleshed out, I would have enjoyed The Peculiars much more. I did enjoy the story by the end, but it was an uphill battle to get there in the first place. If there was a sequel, I'd come back. For now, this one sits on the self of books that were enjoyable, but not my favorite.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.