Book Review: The Peculiar

The Peculiar
The Peculiar
By: Stefan Bachmann
Published by Greenwillow Books
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Genre: MG fantasy
384 pages 
Buy it on Amazon, IndieBound
 or Barnes and Noble
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

My thoughts: 
This book is soooo much better than my personal experience of it shows. I truly do classify it as a great read; it just didn't sweep me away like I'd hoped, based on the blurbs I was seeing from some of my favorite authors.

I think the world-building and plotting in this book are wonderfully intricate and fresh, weaving elements from several different fiction genres and sets of lore. For originality of thought, I'd give this one five birdies for sure. I have a deep appreciation, especially, for how Bachmann infused the world of faerie with elements of steampunk.

I think my main difficulty with the reading is this: I had trouble connecting with the characters. This connection is usually what marks an exceptional read for me, and it just wasn't happening when the two main characters were an old cowardly man and a half-human boy, while the female characters around them are quite secondary. The two are quite driven to follow the outline of the plot, though their motivation for doing so, their emotional state of being, never shone through for me. I'm not saying it's not there- I'm saying, I didn't find it. And I'm admitting that it very well may be that I was having an off-task reading week.

I am sure there are a lot of readers out there who will love this book. I can think of several, in fact, to whom I will make a personal recommendation. I believe that readers who liked Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series, or The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver will enjoy this book.

Summary from GoodReads:

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.

Part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure, "The Peculiar" is Stefan Bachmann's riveting, inventive, and unforgettable debut novel.


  1. It's funny how you can be affected by "life stuff" when reading. An "off task reading week" is a good way to put it. I enjoyed your review and Leviathan was a favorite of mine so I am interested in checking out this book.

    1. Annette, thanks for letting me know that message was coming through in this review. :)

  2. I love the cover! So original and fun.

  3. The adjective "original" is very fitting to describe this book. I'm also amazed at the young age the author was (sixteen) when he wrote it. I thought the writing was very poetic, reminding me a lot of Lauren Oliver, so it makes sense when you say those fans of The Spindlers would appreciate this book too. All that being said, I really liked it, but similar to the sentiments you expressed I didn't LOVE it either. I think its because there was far too much action going on and sometimes I have trouble picturing all of it in my mind when its as abstract as this book is. Great Review!

    PS: I just finished The Spindlers, too!

    1. Gina, I get what you're saying about all the action; it was very plot-driven. Thanks for letting me know that your reaction was similar to mine; it's always good to know that it's not "just me."
      And it looks like we're on similar reading journeys!


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