Like black snow, they drifted onto an old city called Bath. They whirled down the roofs, gathered in the corners of the alleys, and turned everything dark and silent, like a winters day.
The townsfolk though it odd. Some locked themselves in their cellars. Some hurried to church. Most opened umbrellas and went about their business. At four o’clock in the afternoon, a group of bird catchers set off on the road to Kentish Town, pulling their cages in a cart behind them. They were the last to see Bath as it had been, the last to leave it.”
In the Faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister were raised by these words; don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged. Bartholomew and Hettie are Peculiars, half human, half faery, and hated by both.
In London Mr Jelliby goes about his daily business, he takes on nothing more than he has to to get by. With a large inheritance and a position in Parliament gained by word of mouth, he doesn’t actually do much to get by. But when he finds himself lost in a co-workers house, going into the wrong room is the last of his worries. He gets himself involved in something major and it changes everything.
When I read the press release about this book I knew it was one for me. I don’t generally do Faery books, not if they are based in our contemporary world anyway. But in The Peculiar we are whisked back to a familiar world that isn’t familiar at all and I think that’s what interested me the most. Now I’ve read it I can definitely say that the world of The Peculiar is one of the best I’ve read in 9+ fantasy and I want to return to it again and again.
The world is quite steampunkish, but I think its a simpler version that that of other well known steampunk novels like Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld etc. I loved that it was a fantasy world based in reality and that we are told things that make sense to what we know about history but they are changed. The Faery creatures are not all good, though there are good ones around, the evil ones are very evil and I loved how there was a good guy/bad guy element to this book. The story is steeped in evil and to tell you about it would mean I’d give a lot away, but in The Peculiar I can tell you that you will be whisked away to a magical world that will scare you, that will make your emotions run wild and that will take you back to the stories you used to get told at bedtimes. Also, when you are whisked there it feels so amazing that you will not want to pull yourself away.
There is a bit of a slow start whilst the story is building up, however in the start you are being introduce to Bartholomew and Mr Jelliby, along with other characters you need to know about in the later part of the book. At first I loved Bartholomew and wanted to know more about him and his family but hated Mr Jelliby, he seemed to be so lazy and selfish. However I really grew to love him as the books event went on and towards the end of the book he became one of my favourite characters.
There was a lot of magic and mystery to the book and it is quite obvious that this was written to be the first in a serious. If that is the case and there will be more I can’t wait because although the book didn’t end on a huge cliffhanger I want more and there are things that need tying up a bit more. I really loved the action packed aspect of this book and how easy it was to read and follow and I think its a great step into the world of fantasy for a younger child. A fantastic addition to the content of the story was that the first page of each chapter was adorned with black feather images, this was a fantastic touch which added to my excitement of what was to come from the chapter. To think that Stefan Bachmann wrote this when he was just 16 is crazy because it was just an amazing read with a great storyline and well developed characters.
The Peculiar was published on 18th September by HarperCollins Children’s Books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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