The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(I was given this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to NetGalley and ABRAMS)
18-year-old Lena has always been different. Born with strangely narrow, long hands and feet, and fingers and toes with extra joints, she has always worn gloves to try to hide her problem. Her Nana says that Lena was born this way because her father was a goblin(!) and Lena lives in fear of being labelled ‘Peculiar’.
Living in an alternate world in the late 1800’s, criminals, and people who are ‘Peculiar’ are all sent to live in a place called Scree, where they are forced to work in the mines there as slave labour. Lena’s father disappeared – possibly to Scree –when she was 5, and on her 18th birthday her mother gives her a letter from him. The envelope also contains money and maps; maps for Scree.
Setting off on an adventure to find her father, and to discover if she really is ‘Peculiar’, Lena voyages to the town closest to Scree. Here she intends to find a guide who can help her locate her father, and guide her through Scree.
Disaster falls though when the train that she is on is held up by some ‘Peculiars’ and her purse is stolen. Low on funds; Lena gets a job with a man called Mr Beasley in order to earn enough money to continue on her journey. But Mr Beasley is being watched by the local Marshall, who tries to blackmail Lena into spying on Mr Beasley for him.
Lena must now work out where her loyalties lie, whether ‘Peculiars’ really exist, and if she really is one of them.
I really enjoyed this book. Lena was such a genuine character, who always tried her best, even when people scorned her and tried to label her ‘Peculiar’. Her mission to find her father was a journey of discovery, not only to find her elusive father, but to also learn some things about herself, and even people in general.
The secondary characters were also great. I loved Mr Beasley and his strange inventions, and his cat that was just so clever! I also liked the fact that the story was balanced by the addition of two missionaries who were so sure that ‘peculiars’ were soulless!
I loved the mystery surrounding the girl with wings, and the question of whether Lena really was half-peculiar or not, and what this meant for her.
At the end of the book there were also some historical notes, explaining where the author got their information from, and the similarities and dissimilarities between Lena’s world and our own which was really interesting and showed that the author had put a lot of time and effort into researching this book.
Well worth reading!
8 out of 10.
(Book length: 3447 kindle locations)
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