The Peculiars – a book review

Several weeks ago I received in the mail an uncorrected proof of a soon-to-be-released book , The Peculiars, written by a friend of mine, Maureen Doyle McQuerry. How fun it was to hold her book in my hands! I heard her read the first chapter or so of the book aloud when I met her two years ago, and I had waited all this time to learn what happens. I was not disappointed!

 And so I present to you here my official first-ever book review! I was honored when Maureen asked me to write the review. I was also afraid! I wanted to do a good job, to do justice to the book, to be honest and readable and relevant. I read the book twice, taking notes the second time, and then I sat down at my favorite coffee shop and set to work. It wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be! However, it was hard in that there is so much that could be said, so much I had to leave out…not becuase there was a strict rule of word count (that I was aware of) but because I, as a reader, know that short is best when it comes to reviews. When I’m reading a review I am not going to plow though paragraph after paragraph…short and sweet, please!

 But, that being said, I didn’t want to tell the plot or give away secrets…it’s a fine balance.

 So I wrote about Lena, the heroine, who, I discovered, I could truly relate to. I’ve been in her too-trusting shoes, though, to be sure, her shoes would never have fit me…

 The Peculiars is available now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble web sites, as well as in discerning book stores! It is written for a YA (Young Adult) audience, though as you’ll see in my review I’d recommend it for almost any age. It is published by Amulet books, an imprint of Abrams. It is currently available in both hardback and kindle versions ($10.95 and $9.99, respectively).

 P.S. – I have always loved the word, “peculiar” – I like words that you have to work at to pronounce correctly!

The Peculiars, by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

Lena Mattacascar has lived her whole life being scrutinized by her mother and grandmother, watched constantly for signs of wild thoughts, goblinish behaviors, and anything that might prove her heritage which for so many years has been kept hidden or explained away.

Lena’s father, a suspected goblin, who abandoned his family when Lena was small, has come back into her life via a letter he left for her 18th birthday. Lena is determined to discover just exactly who her father is and, ultimately, who she herself is.

So she sets out alone on a quest into a world of steam trains, dirigibles, and gas-powered lights, a world where science trumps superstition and criminals and “peculiars” are sent to Scree, a wild land where they are forced to work in the mines for a government that considers them soulless and expendable.

Yet this is the place Lena knows she must go to find her father. Along the way she meets friends and foes, people who love her and people who suspect her overly-long fingers and feet as signs of her peculiarity, her valuelessness.

Lena, while unwavering in her purpose, is far less sure of her own self. For the first time in her life she is out on her own, an obedient girl going against her mother’s wishes, full of fears and desires and self-doubt. Through deceit, discovery, flying machines, and adventure, Lena discovers not only who she is, but also that what we think we see may not be what is truly there; that who we think we are may be completely wrong…or completely right.

Well-researched and carefully written, McQuerry has written a relatable book that I can recommend equally to my 10 year old daughter and my 75 year old mother, as well as to anyone who is intrigued by fanciful machines, adventure, and even budding romance. I look forward to the sequel that is surely on its way.

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