Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry is steampunk with goblins -- what's not to like?

All her life, Lena has been ashamed of her unusually long hands and feet, which her family doctor claimed were evidence of a Peculiar (part-goblin) heritage. Since Lena's father disappeared from her life when she was a young child, she doesn't know if there's any truth to the doctor's supposition or not. When she receives a letter and an inheritance that he left for her on her eighteenth birthday, she sets out for the north, in hopes of discovering the truth about her father. Along the way, she meets Jimson, who has just taken a job organizing the library of the mysterious Mr. Beasley, who may have some dealings with Peculiars himself. Is Mr. Beasley to be trusted, or is he performing unspeakable atrocities in his hidden laboratory? Perhaps Lena would be better off trusting charming lawman Thomas Saltre, who seems to have her best interests at heart -- and may know something about Lena's father, as well. . . .

This story reminded me a little bit of Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede, and a little bit of Chime by Franny Billingsley, so fans of either of those books might like this one. Lena has a few Too Stupid To Live moments, but it's not her defining characteristic. Her growing friendship with Jimson is easily the best part of the story. The ending of this book, while somewhat conclusive, left an opening for a possible sequel -- if so, I look forward to seeing what happens with these characters.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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