Reviews for Peculiar


Booklist Reviews 2012 September #2
First-time novelist Bachmann crafts an elaborate alternate steampunk Britain, set after the Smiling War, when a door to the Old Country was opened and faeries of all types streamed into Bath. Bartholomew and his younger sister, Hettie, are changeling children, outcasts even amongst faeries. But someone is extremely interested in changelings, kidnapping and murdering nine of them in attempts to open a new door into the Old Country. When Hettie is taken, Bartholomew must try to save his sister from becoming the gateway that will destroy the world. Imaginative, highly descriptive writing includes faerie lore and mystery, thrilling adventure and friendship, and bursts of the fantastic and whimsical, all of which is tempered with a darkness that permeates the story. Alternating points of view from Bartholomew and Mr. Jelliby, a bumbling yet good-hearted member of the Privy Council who is helping him, keeps the story moving quickly, and the faerie Lord Lickerish is an appropriately creepy villain. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
In an alternate-reality England, a temporary door to the faery world has led to war, and the industrial revolution has hampered the stranded and oppressed faeries' magic. Bachmann skillfully sets tone and scene and has a great sense of rhythm and pace, but the plot is pretty plainly developed. Still, powerhouse fantasy readers will find sustenance here; the cliffhanger shocker suggests a sequel.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
In an alternate-reality England, a temporary door to the faery world has led to war, and the industrial revolution has hampered the stranded faeries' magic, resulting in a steampunk version of London and Bath with faeries as the oppressed immigrant population. Changelings -- here, the result of mixed marriages -- are called "Peculiars," and lately several of them have turned up dead, and hollow, floating in the Thames. Changeling Bartholomew Kettle is kept mostly hidden by his mother, but when he witnesses, from his window, a beautiful lady in plum-colored velvet with a hideous second face, he ventures out. Mr. Jelliby, a "very nice young man" (and thus ineffective member of Parliament), plays the straight man in the story as he happens upon a deception engineered by the faery Lord Chancellor Mr. Lickerish, also involving the lady in plum. In alternating chapters, Bartholomew and Mr. Jelliby uncover a fiendish plot, ultimately joining forces to try and stop it. This first novel from a young author shows both promise and naivete. Bachmann is skillful in setting tone and scene and has a great sense of rhythm and pace: the story is continually exciting, but doesn't feel rushed. Yet the protagonists occasionally break character (inconsistencies in Mr. Jelliby's motivation are the most jarring) and state the obvious; and as thrilling and ethically complex as the plot seems, it's pretty plainly developed. Still, powerhouse fantasy readers will find sustenance here; the cliffhanger shocker suggests a sequel; and Bachmann writes his scenes as if for an inevitable movie script. nina lindsay Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #1
Goblins, faeries, gnomes, elflike fay, sylphs, automatons and changelings, oh my! In an alternate Victorian England where there are vertical cities, faery slums, gnome-driven taxis, and mechanical birds, changelings Bartholomew and his sister Hettie are labeled "peculiars" by the Church. Despised by both the Sidhe and the English upper-crust, they have been kept, confined and secret, in their house. When Bartholomew witnesses a boy changeling across the street being kidnapped by a mysterious woman in a frenzy of menacing black feathers, he becomes an unwitting pawn in a battle between the dark side and the humans. Tension mounts like a stack of teetering blocks as Bartholomew tries to rescue Hettie, who is in danger of becoming the 10th kidnapped changeling killed. Can he survive to save his sister? The open ending paves the way for sequels, and the intricately detailed descriptions of sinister scenes create palpable evil that will raise readers' hackles. The author was only 16 in 2010, when he began writing this fantasy stemming from British folklore and infused with a Dickensian flair; it's bound to be hyped like Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. Not to be confused with a new steampunk novel for teens with the title of The Peculiars, by Maureen McQuerry (2012). A promising, atmospheric fantasy debut. (Fantasy. 10-15) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2013 March/April
In a London of the past, changeling/peculiar Bartholomew Kettle has always been warned against being noticed. One day, he and his sister Hettie are spotted by a young woman possessed by an evil faery. The next day, Bartholomew observes his next door neighbor being spirited away by the "lady in plum." Curiosity drives him to investigate her sinister movements further, and he is caught. Then Hettie is kidnapped. Arthur Jelliby stumbles upon an evil deed being planned by the Lord Chancellor to the Queen and another evil faery. The two heroes' stories begin separately, told in alternating chapters. However, once Bartholomew and Jelliby meet, their steampunk fantasy adventure to save London unfolds to a cliff-hanging end as one narrative. The story's drama and action do not get bogged down by the flowery descriptions in this debut novel. Though the plot is often predictable, this is an admirable beginning. Stephanie Bange, Director, Educational Resource Center, Wright State University, Da ton, Ohio [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format.] RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #2

When a teenager writes a publishable book, it's noteworthy, but when the book is this good, it's something special. Bachmann sets his tale in a polluted, steampunk Victorian England rendered even stranger by a faery invasion in the previous century. Some of the fay--like Lord Lickerish, Lord Chamberlain of England--have grown powerful, but most live in poverty, deeply distrusted by the natives, with the half-human changelings despised by everyone. Bartholomew, a changeling, sees a friend abducted by magic in broad daylight and later learns it is the latest in a string of disappearances. Meanwhile, a government official, Arthur Jelliby ("a very nice young man, which was perhaps the reason why he had never made much of a politician"), finds dangerous information linking Lord Lickerish to the kidnappings. Together Jelliby and Bartholonew uncover a horrible secret that might destroy England. Bachmann, now 18, has a polished and witty writing style; his characters are skillfully developed, the action is nonstop, and his faery society is fascinating. An absolute treat for readers of any age. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Megibow, Nelson Literary Agency. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 October

Gr 5-8--This gripping debut novel opens with a prologue that describes how the fairies left their own land, came to England, fought a war with the humans, and lost, leading to a mechanical Age of Smoke where church bells, iron, and mechanics are used to prevent magic. In this alternative world, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister, Hettie, are changelings, also called Peculiars, children of a human mother and a faery father who has abandoned the family. They live in the faery slums of Bath and follow their mother's rule, "Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged." When Bartholomew watches a beautiful lady from his window, she notices him, and his adventures begin. The lady is involved in a plot whose victims are changeling children, and when Hettie is kidnapped, Bartholomew joins forces with Arthur Jelliby, a member of Parliament who is investigating the plot and sees the boy as a person, not just a Peculiar. Arthur and Bartholomew begin to understand the scale of the plan and the danger that faces all of England, and they travel across the country to gather clues and save Hettie. Bachmann began writing this novel when he was only 16, and he's still a teenager, making the atmospheric writing and tense plotting even more of an accomplishment. The Peculiar combines fantasy, mystery, and suspense with a wry humor and unusual characters to create an intriguing, thought-provoking whole that will leave readers looking forward to sequels. Fans of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008) and young steampunk enthusiasts will find much here to enjoy.--Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI

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