The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

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The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Highly enjoyable fantasy novel combining elements of the steampunk, urban and faerie genres. The writing is beautiful, precise and elegant, and the plot unwinds fantastically. I'd like to see the sequels bring some more intense characterisation. Stefan Bachmann popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: October 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0062195182

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Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.

Such is life for peculiars like Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie. Their mother is human but their - absent - father is a Sidhe, a high fairy. Fairies are contemptuous of the half-breed peculiars and humans distrust and suspect them. Hapless peculiar children are often hanged by humans. And, even more worryingly, bodies of peculiars have been turning up recently, quite dead, covered in ancient faerie script and as empty of bone and organ as they are of life.

So when the lady in the plum dress arrives in Bartholomew's back alley in New Bath, he really should know better than to reveal himself or get involved. But he does. And he finds himself embroiled in a terrible plot fraught with danger. Still worse, Hettie goes missing. To find her - and, of course, to save the world - Barthie will need a friend, something he's remarkably short of. Cue Arthur Jelliby, a member of HM Government's Privy Council in London and a society man who prefers a quiet life to intrigue. He'll need to man up if he's to match Barthie in courage...

The world of The Peculiar is a steampunk one. It's set in an alternate Victorian England in which automata draw carriages and mechanical birds send messages. It's grimy and industrial. But it's peopled with humans and fey in an uneasy mix - the fey stranded in the human world after a gate opened between it and the Old Country and then closed again in a cataclysmic disaster. The ensuing war was won by the humans and most of the remaining faeries work in the factories. Only a few, like the Lord Chancellor Mr Lickerish, hold positions of influence. So, although the tropes in this novel will be familiar to all fans of fantasy, the combination won't be. And we do like a bit of originality, don't we?

I'll confess a bias now. You see, the author, Stefan Bachmann, is a friend of all of us here at Bookbag Towers. Before he embarked upon his authorial career, he reviewed books for us. So I confess that I wanted to like The Peculiar. And like it I did - honestly. It's beautifully written, in precise and elegant prose. The plot unwinds magnificently, building up pace as it goes along and by the end, you'll find it a real page-turner. I think there is room for more exploration of the main characters and I'd like to see some more of their innermost thoughts and feelings in later books in the series. And I'd like those later books to dispense with American spellings in the UK editions. It's O-U-R at the end of words this side of the Pond, Harper Collins!

My wanting to like The Peculiar as aside as I can manage, I think, if you like faerie or steampunk fantasy - or both - you'll enjoy it. I did. Truly.

If steampunk is your thing, you'll also enjoy Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Ancient Appetites by Oisin McGann. I think you'd also have fun with the books about Bartimaeus by Jonathan Stroud.

Buy The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann at Amazon.com.


Bookinterviews.jpg Stefan Bachmann was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

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