by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Expected Publication: May 1, 2012
This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena’s father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.
Publisher Type: Non-Indie
Rating: * * * * *
Okay, so usually I give you my thoughts on the actual story first, but I could NOT wait to talk about how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cover!!! It is sooooo ...just WOW. So now I'm gushing and am not sounding very intelligent, but there you have it. Look at it! Isn't it awesome!?! I requested the book on Netgalley completely based on the cover. Assuming the blurb was the same as the above from Goodreads, I can't say I'm overly impressed with the blurb, but the cover totally did it for me.
I am completely jump-up-and-down, twirl-around, and squeal-with-joy over this book! I utterly and totally loved it! This is my very first dip into steampunk and found it fabulous. Per some reviews I've read, it's not deeply steampunk, but that works in its favor for me. With true historical fiction, I'm not a fan of being bogged down with weighty descriptions or too many factual references and have no doubt I'd feel that way about steampunk. I did love the hints of true history and all the fantastical inventions and the old-timey feel of the novel.
Simply put, this is a fantastic story. It has whimsical and fun elements (I heart Ms. Mumbles, the cat) and darker elements of fear turned oppression, parental abandonment and the emotional abuse of being told you are, deep down, a monster. The twists and turns of this grand adventure was thrilling!
Lena is a great character. Her naivete and general lack of worldliness is obvious, appropriate for the time period and endearing. She's also struggling with her identity and her place in society. I really connected with her. I felt for her and I liked her. Her growth into self-acceptance is a main theme in the novel and is so well done.
Jimson is another favorite for me. He is a steady force throughout. He's loyal, kind and passionate. He gives people the benefit of the doubt but seeks the truth over personal feelings.
The entire cast of quirky, impassioned characters made me as excited as Lena to embark on this adventure. I really hope that this is not a stand alone novel. I really want to learn more of the Peculiars and of Scree!
So in conclusion, I loved the creativity and the fun of this book. The story and characters will leave you thinking about The Peculiars long after finishing the book. The cover is amazing and made me want to read it despite the lack luster blurb. You've got to read this one! It's a great ride!