The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Hardcover, 354 pgs.
Published May 1st, 2012 by Amulet Books
Description from Goodreads:
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.
Maureen McQuerry has created a unique and stand-out world. While at first it had the feel of fantasy it quickly became more historical fiction with fantasy elements. As the world is not exactly clear where it is, mentions of Europe and other 'real' places led me to believe it is someplace in America. There was also mentions of real historical figures but they were only mentions and didn't play any role in the story other than having made a gun or came up with an invention, etc.
I really enjoyed the world created and the aspect of the Peculiars. It was so different but yet so easy to relate to because there has always been those persecuted. This reminded me a little of the Native Americans because they were basically rounded up and put to work or just put in their own areas (the reservations now). While they were definitely different from the Peculiars, there was just enough there to make me think of that. And how wrong it is to persecute others because they are different and/or have different beliefs.
This was a fun historical fantasy with a touch of steampunk and a dash of adventure thrown in. I definitely suggest you give this one a try!
• At the heart of the story lies the nature vs. nurture debate. Are we destined to
greatness or failure by the very coding in our DNA or is our fate decided by the
circumstances of our environment? Can a child born of parents with a dark past
overcome his or her genetic programming? A tricky question that has been debated
for centuries. I appreciated the author presenting this question at the center of her
story. Focusing on Lena, a girl with good intentions, trying to fend off her goblin
genes. This is a coming of age story that tells the tale of a young lady finding her own
identity and learning to be comfortable in her own skin. Along the way, her eyes are
opened and she sheds some prejudices and sees the world and The Peculiars in a
• I liked that this book focuses on identity and it steers away from the common romance
storyline. It is refreshing to find a read without love triangles and cliff hangers. This
book presents the whisper of a romance and attraction but it is subtle. A look, a hint, a
feeling....no big sparks or insta love situations. Instead it is a slow and steady building
that is just beginning to bud by the conclusion.
• I enjoyed meeting The Peculiars, the people born with deformities and abnormal
characteristics. Many of these people have been persecuted and forced to live as
outcasts because of their conditions. This book is a stark reminder that just because
people are different they are not bad, nor do they deserve to be shunned. Thankfully,
society has made significant strides in moving beyond appearance prejudices, yet
there is more work to be done. Ms. McQuerry with her steampunk tale reminds us to
look beyond the outward features and see the person inside.
• I adored the cat, Mrs. Mumbles. She is a fun addition to the story and she left her
mark on my heart.
• I enjoyed the descriptions and the use of alliteration in the story. The unique
descriptions were really nice.
Please note that these are only portions of our reviews. You can find the full reviews at Heidi's blog HERE and Candace's blog HERE. We both had some negatives listed on the full review.
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*Disclosure: While Candace purchased the book for review, Heidi received the book for review. Either way both expressed only their own opinions and no one was paid or influenced in any way.
About the reviewers:
Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.
I am a recent transplant to the rainy, region of Portland, Oregon; thus the reason for my blog Rainy Day Ramblings. The many rainy days here provide me ample time to snuggle up under a comfy blanket with a cat and read while the rain drips down my window.
I also, when I find time, enjoy baking, candle and jewelry making, cross stitching and spending ample time with family.
Find me on my blog, facebook, and twitter.