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The Peculiar

The Peculiar - 4.5/5Originally published at Gypsy ReviewsThe Peculiar was such a pleasant surprise, proving once again how fantastic and how great a palette cleanser Middle Grade is. The mystery in The Peculiar draws you in slowly and refuses to let you divulge in the big secret, keeping you on your toes as you discover the vibrant world that Bachmann has intertwined steampunk and magic into Victorian England. You would never expect The Peculiar to be as dark as it is and to take you on an adventure with an unlikely pair.The two main characters, Bartholomew and Mr. Jelliby come from two entirely different worlds and lifestyles. Bartholomew is a changeling – half fairy and half human who lives with his mother and sister, Hettie. No one wants anything to do with changelings so Bartholomew has to keep himself hidden well and to keep his sister out of danger as well. But trouble bubbles when one day, a mysterious lady in plum goes to his neighbour’s house and takes his neighbour’s son away. Bartholomew finds himself intertwined in the middle of a scheme he was never meant to be inside. Mr. Jelliby on the other hand is a politician and carelessness brings him to find out more than he ever anticipated about the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Lickerish who is a fairy. Soon the two characters’ lives collide and they set off together to undo the damage that could be done.Bartholomew is a curious boy, he wants more than he can actually have and that does actually get him in trouble. He loves his sister very much because of how more vulnerable she is than he is as he could be mistaken for a normal boy but for Hettie and her tree branch air, she stands out more. Living as he does is hard for Bartholomew because he cannot do what he want. Mr. Jelliby on the other hand usually just wants to remain in the shadows and go through the daily routine of his life which albeit sounds boring is what he wants. He doesn’t want trouble and is content with his life.They are two very different people and I loved getting to know them individually at first and then when their worlds collided, seeing them work together. We get to see the two sides of England in The Peculiar, the fairy and human side and see how each of them adapt to the different worlds that they are unfamiliar with. I am so excited for more of them in The Whatnot!The plot was very well executed and written, Bachmann’s storytelling is done so well without too many details and yet managing to keep you on your toes because for some of them, you will never even see them coming. Some events are just shrouded in mystery and reveals a more sinister side to the big plot. You might expect the plot to be quite simple because it’s Middle Grade but it wasn’t too predictable. I still managed to be very surprised. I loved his writing!It was called The Smiling War because it left so many skulls, white and grinning, in the fields. (p. 5 Kindle edition)When they heard the sounds again, they were eerie and far away, as if other things were sliding through the trestles, whispering. (p. 319 Kindle edition)The world building was one of the highlights of the book, Bachmann takes time in the beginning to actually explain how England became like this and how he actually weaves the fairies into his story. His world is rich and vibrant and something entirely new. Fairies are not the happy little sparkling fairies you know in your childhood, the truth is much uglier than that. It does get hard to visualise how the characters look like because it was difficult to get the image of the fairies I had grown to associate with. I couldn’t give the book a full 5 stars because as much as I loved it, the feeling just wasn’t there you know? I have to adore it to bits to give it 5 stars.Verdict: Buy the book.------------------------Fabulous book, it didn't feel like Middle Grade at all and it was written beautifully. The world building is incredibly rich and full of possibilities, the room for growth makes me very excited to read the sequel. I really adored the two MCs, a very unlikely pair the two of them were. -- Full review to come