The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, New York: Greenwillow Books, 2012. 376 p.
In the world of The Peculiar, fairies have appeared in England, destroying the ancient city of Bath and causing mischief across the land. Controlled with church bells, iron, treeless landscapes, and clockwork, the fay are now an inseparable part of the country and life goes on…until dead changelings are found having been hollowed out and nobody knows how or why.
Bartholomew Kettle already lives a difficult life along with his sister being half human/half fairy changelings. They live by the motto “Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged”, especially since Bartholomew’s sister has tree limbs growing out of her head. They are hidden in their apartment by their human mother until Bartholomew notices his neighbor vanish into thin air after being lured out of his house by a mysterious beautiful woman. Risking his life, he tries to investigate the disappearance, joining forces with a reluctant human partner whose brush with fairies has torn his life apart.
A suspenseful dark introduction to the genres of fantasy and steampunk, this novel manages to capture the reader into the world of blackened twisted flats, ominous alleys, ominous fairies, and mechanical creatures that are almost alive. The good news for those who get hooked is there is a sequel. This novel would capture the interest of brave 4th grade readers through teen (and adult). Young aspiring writers might also be interested in knowing that the author was only 16 years old when he began writing this novel.
Elizabeth Lehman works in the Children’s Department at the Mebane Public Library. She can be reached at (919) 563-6431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.