Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Book Description via Goodreads:

Paperback, 376 pages
September 1, 2012, HarperCollins Publishers

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK meets JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL in this gothic steampunk page-turner for readers of all ages.

Bartholomew Kettle won't live long. Changelings never do. The child of a human mother and a faery father, Bartholomew is a secret, despised by both his races. If the English don't hang him for witchcraft, the faerys will do something worse. So his mother keeps him locked away, hidden from the world in the faery slums of Bath.

But one day Bartholomew witnesses a mysterious lady kidnap another changeling through a shadowy portal, and he realizes the danger is closer than ever before. Changelings are surfacing in the rivers, their bodies empty of blood and bone and their skin covered in red markings. A powerful figure sits in the shadows, pushing the pieces in place for some terrible victory. When a sinister faery in a top-hat begins to stalk Bartholomew's steps, he knows it's his turn. Something is coming for him. Something needs him. But when you're a changeling there's nowhere to run...

Buy The Peculiar!

Source: Christine, HarperCollins + PBT (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Before reading The Peculiar, I was prepared for steampunkery and faeries. I guess I expected a taste of the ambiance of Ironskin by Tina Connolly. But instead I got a piece of a cruel, cruel world, a glimpse into the lives of the people in the faery slums and a lonely changeling. In London, faeries, changelings and humans co-existed and shared a strained relationship. Bells rang every five minutes, hindering and molding the magical nature of faeries. Without a way home, they were forced to stay in the human world. I loved my short stay in the story world of The Peculiar. It was a vivid and imaginative world, with a balance between the elements of magic and technology. The attention to detail reminded me of the style of Cassandra Clare.

I enjoyed reading the story from two perspectives: Bartholomew’s and Mr. Jelliby’s. I liked how the author wrote this novel in such a way that the story of these two characters formed two halves of a whole. Bartholomew was a changeling living in the faery slums and as a changeling, he lived in fear of discovery. He was constantly reminded to be extra careful. He shouldn’t grab the attention of other people. Despite Barty being half-faery and half-human, he seemed more human than fay. He longed for friendship and was protective of his younger sister. I liked to consider changelings as the minority in this equation. They were often viewed so negatively in such a way that they were a menace and are easily disposable that their lives were in constant danger.

Mr. Jelliby was a character that I was fond of. He had the big heart of Mo from Liesl & Po and the gentlemanliness and sophistication of Jem from Clockwork Angel, only more posh, slightly unlucky and active in politics. He was super nice, to the point that he dreaded Privy Council meetings because it involved topics like murder, but he was not weak. Through his luck and persistence, Mr. Jelliby uncovered important bits of information and he didn’t sit still for one minute. He acted out. I liked how Mr. Jelliby’s strengths and weaknesses were balanced out and more importantly, I liked how he braved the danger he knew he was getting into.

The faeries in The Peculiar were the kind that interested me and creeped me out. For instance, Mr. Lickerish reminded me so much of a typical faery prince or a faery nobel. Powerful, gorgeous and elegant but with a mean streak and an innate coldness in him, in my mind I was associating him with the UnSeelie. Jack Box was the one that creeped me out and annoyed me the most but at the end of the book, I found pity and understanding for his character. Back to basic was what happened in The Peculiar and it was very effective. As Bachmann said in his guest post, sometimes faeries tend to be romanticized and I do agree with him. Showing the 'evil' side of faeries was something I liked.

The ending was heartbreakingly good. I was so sad that it ended there. It was that moment when you find yourself sitting at the edge of your seat, looking for the next page only to find out that you’ve finished the book. My only complaint was that there were times while reading it that I felt that the pacing was slow. However, I have no issues with slow pacing. I just felt that these parts weren’t in sync with the other parts where I flipped the pages like mad.

The Peculiar was a heart-pounding steampunk fantasy with a mystery that will keep readers at the edge of their seats and enough suspense to cause a heart attack. I recommend this to readers of steampunk, fantasy and fans of faery novels. Questions, creepiness and murder. If these things interest you, pick this up! If you liked Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr, I believe you might like this, too – in my opinion, the true nature of the faeries were revealed. Minus the romance.


4.5 Cupids = Obsessive book love.
Almost made it as one of my favorites! I strongly recommend this!

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  1. Loved your review. I so agree that the setting was fascinating. The pace was a tad slow for me, but I really enjoyed Bartholomew and Mr. Jelliby's developing relationship. And the ending was a heart puller. Thanks for spotlighting this and giving it away.

  2. Very nice review! Your review makes me want to read the book!

  3. Yes, I really loved this book! The world-building was great and I liked the switch between Jelliby's and Bartholomew's POV. I grew fond of both of them :)