Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

The Peculiars
by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Young-Adult Fantasy/Steampunk

Buy It: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository

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.(synopsis from Goodreads)

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry is a steampunk fiction set in an alternate late 1800s world. I love steampunk and was immediately drawn to the spectacular cover. Sprinkled with history, steampunk contraptions and strange folk known as Peculiars this novel kept me entertained. 

The protagonist is Lena Mattacascar and she has always known she was different. Her grandmother never lets her forget. Lena is part Goblin and has just turned eighteen. Her father, who abandoned the family years ago, left her a present for this special occasion. In an envelope she discovers a letter, some money and a deed to a mine in Scree. It is said that Scree is where Peculiars live. Lena sets out by train to Knob Knoster (a fishing town not to far from Scree). Here she hopes to hire a guide, learn more about her father, Peculiars and her own differences. Lena is relieved when the train begins to empty and she can finally relax. Just as she makes herself comfortable, in walks Jimson Quiggley. He is traveling to Knob Knoster to work as a librarian for Tobias Beasley. The two chat about things, and Lena finds him to be sweet. Events on the train, lead Lena to meet the handsome Marshall.  His name is Thomas Saltre and he takes an immediate interest in Lena. When Lena arrives in Knob Knoster, she begins to look for a guide to Scree. Her path again crosses those of the Marshall and she finds herself unwittingly headed to the home of Tobias Beasley as a spy. The tale that unfolds was fascinating. 

I adored Lena and Jimson and found them to be delightful. The romance that develops between them is sweet and genuine. Lena really cannot see anyone having feelings for her or ever finding her attractive. She wonders whether or not she has a soul and wants to know more about her father. She worries that she will become like him. Tobias Beasley was an interesting character, brilliant and nutty. The Marshall, despite his handsome appearance gave me the willies. Other characters such as the cook and missionary sisters gave the tale credibility.

The world-building was interesting and I loved the blend of history and fantasy. However, it wasn't as dark or as detailed as I was expecting. This was more of a character driven novel and didn’t have all the gadgets I have come to expect in steampunk tales. While it deals with Peculiars we don’t really get enough information on them and I wanted more back-history. I would have liked to have learned more, and perhaps been given more detail about events.  The tale moved at a steady pace and was filled with moments of suspense. McQuerry’s writing was descriptive and I enjoyed her attention to detail. She brought Beasley's home, Spree and the train to life. My favorite part, was the aerocopter. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, but am hoping a second book comes along.

I recommend The Peculiars to fans of paranormal adventures.  If you haven’t read a steampunk novel, this would be a good book to start. The Peculiars deals with the adventures of a goblin girl, as she tries to figure out her past, present and future. Sprinkled with history and a dash of romance it offers a delightful afternoon read. 

I want to thank netGalley and HarperCollins for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review. 

I gave this novel 3.5 coffee cups out of 5. 

Author's Website

Do you like Steampunk? 
What do you think of the cover?

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At April 17, 2012 at 1:41 AM , Blogger Christy D said...

Am I the only one who gets the creeps from the cover? Those little wings are creepy. I'm still looking forward to it though. Creepy goblins and all. lol

At April 17, 2012 at 9:42 AM , Blogger Vicky said...

Can you believe it that I haven't actually read any steampunk novels yet? :o
I'm not really sure I like the cover but as long as the content is OK, I'm okay with it. :D

At April 17, 2012 at 10:14 AM , Blogger GMR said...

Gotta agree with Christy D there....the cover is a bit on the creepy side. *-* Not certain it's a story for me but I certainly enjoyed the peek inside! Thanks for sharing...and happy reading...

At April 17, 2012 at 2:27 PM , Blogger Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf said...

I have to concur with the crowd...that cover is not at all attractive. But the whole goblin premise sounds fresh!

At April 17, 2012 at 3:50 PM , Blogger Amanda @ Letters Inside Out said...

I didn't read the entire review, just skimmed it. I actually like the cover, I'm a huge steampunk fan, so I feel it fits the genre. Maybe not so much the book from what I've heard though?

I am still excited to read it, but a bit nervous because you said it skims the details...steampunk IS the details...Guess I'll see soon! Thanks for your review. :)

At April 17, 2012 at 6:13 PM , Blogger Midnyte Reader said...

This is the first I've heard of this book. It looks really good. Gorgeous cover and really interesting premise.

At April 17, 2012 at 7:47 PM , Blogger Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

I was curious about this one. I think I'd still like to give it a try. :) Sounds like a wonderful read. And thanks for the tip on being character driven. I would have thought a dark world to be drawn as well. :) Thank you!

At April 17, 2012 at 10:09 PM , Blogger emaginette said...

I tweeted it and let them know 3.5 still means you like it. :-)

At April 18, 2012 at 4:42 AM , Blogger Chrissie (Once Upon a Series) said...

Urgh, I still haven't tried a steampunk novel yet! But this one does sound like a good place to start! Great review :)

At April 18, 2012 at 8:46 AM , Blogger roro said...

goblins cool
i tink i will try it ^_^
tnx 4 the gr8 review

At April 21, 2012 at 2:31 PM , Blogger Chapter by Chapter said...

I am very excites to read this! I have it next in queue. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. I've probably only read like a handful of Steampunk books, so am really looking forward to this one!

Chapter by Chapter


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