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I Belong

Review: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Title: The Peculiar

Author: Stefan Bachmann

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Series: The Peculiar (Book 1)

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062195182 (Greenwillow)

ISBN-13: 978-0062195180 (Greenwillow)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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.

Quick & Dirty: A creative and wonderful world told through a youthful mind but enjoyable by all.

Opening Sentence: Feathers fell from the sky.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

There is something about the cover of Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar that draws me in. This Middle Grade fantasy book has the promises of greatness, and I was very lucky to have received a copy for review. With all of the great praises of this debut, it was a surprise to hear that Bachmann wrote this at the age of 16. The Peculiar is filled with dark gothic elements, mixed with steampunk details and tied together in a fantasy-esque fairy tale.

The Peculiar begins in Bath, where Bartholomew (Barty) and Hettie Kettle in an alternate Victorian version of the town. They live a solemn life, secluded from the rest of society. They are both hidden away from their mother, afraid to let their identities be known to the public. Barty and Hettie are Peculiars, changelings, half human and half fey. Both of the Kettle children long to belong and to be noticed, but alas it will never happen.

Faeries live throughout the world, unintentionally trapped in our world and kept away from theirs. Paths will cross as Barty witnesses a kidnapping, one that will endanger not only his life, but Hettie’s as well. While Faeries are not accepted in this alternate world, neither are changelings. Now a target for incoming danger, Barty’s only hope is an unlikely Parliament member.

Barty is a great character, filled with complexity and layers. As a peculiar, he has had his work cut out for him. His father left him, his mother fears discovery, and his sister, well she has branches for hair. Barty lives a hard life, but doesn’t seem to be phased by any of it. Barty longs to belong, like many young children do, and in the world that Bachmann has created, in the midst of The Peculiar’s version of prejudices, it’s not a surprise.

The Peculiar has an amazing world, filled with imaginative details. In this alternate and unique world, Bachmann creates this very tangible and concrete setting for a not-so common story. Bachmann gives life to the characters, allowing for a very solid foundation to build on. The rich dialogue, the youthful humor, the grown up dark and creepy elements – they all add to the reasons why you should read The Peculiar. I must admit that the beginning of the book is a little slow, but Bachmann makes up for it in every other way.

Bachmann is a fantastic writer, and for his age, he has a lot of talent. To come up with this extraordinary world filled with complex characters and a well-thought out and well-paced plot, is simply short of amazing. There is originality that seeps out of his typing (or writing) fingers and I cannot wait to read more from him. The Peculiar is a great fantasy, mixed with science fiction elements. And I must say, despite The Peculiar being categorized as a “middle grade” book, readers of all ages will enjoy this book.

Notable Scene:

A spasm passed over lady’s face, a flicker under the surface of her skin, and suddenly her expression was no longer blank. Her eyes fixed on Mr. Jelliby’s through the glass. He could see them now, shining bright and full of pain. Then her red lips parted and she was speaking in a creamy soft voice that held the faintest trace of an accent. “It is only the woodwork, my lords. It expands in the head of the day.”

Her voice stopped, but she continued to stare at Mr. Jelliby, and her mouth continued to move. It formed two words. Two soundless words, just once, and they rang clear as crystal in his head.

Help me.

The Peculiar Series:

1. The Peculiar

FTC Advisory: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of The Peculiar.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Review: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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