Marvelous Middle Grade: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
PROS:mood mastery; sympathetic characters; beautiful, detail-rich settings
CONS:occasional slow moments
Bachmann channels Neil Gaiman’s sense of mood and atmosphere and J.K. Rowling’s magic touch with characters in this thrilling and evocative story.
In Stefan Bachmann’s debut novel, The Peculiar, fairies are trapped in our world after a mysterious portal cracks open in the city of Bath. After a dramatic stage-setting rundown of the wars between human and fairykind and the fey’s eventual assimilation into human society, we dive in to the story, meeting one result of this new, mixed world. Bartholomew Biddle is half-human, half-fairy, and the worst kind too—a changeling, or a Peculiar. Ostracized from both the fairies and humans, he is hidden by his mother away from prying eyes and danger.
But Barty longs for a friend, and he knows just the way to get one—he’s going to summon a fairy. Meanwhile Changelings across the country are disappearing, showing up later bobbing in the Thames, completely drained of blood. Barty has to find out how and why soon, because he’s the tenth Changeling child, and number 9 just bit the dust.
Bachmann channels Neil Gaiman’s sense of mood and atmosphere and J.K. Rowling’s magic touch with characters in this thrilling and evocative story. Barty was a sympathetic lead, and Mr. Jelliby, a privileged, bumbling politician forced to summon a spine and stand up to a murderer, provides much welcome comic relief. Through these two very entertaining lenses, a wonderful mystery plays out, and a heartwarming friendship is forged.
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