Wednesday 6 June 2012

Review: The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry

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.


Don't you love the cover? I wanted to know more about the woman with wings and was enchanted by the backdrop and the font!


I didn't find The Peculiars to be a "dark and thrilling adventure" as stated in the summary. It was far too slow paced to be "thrilling" or even dark but to me, The Peculiars was a charming coming of age tale and I loved that it was set in the 1800s.

The Peculiars is the story of Lena Mattacascar who, on turning eighteen, gets a map with directions to her father's family mine located at Scree. She sets off on a journey to Scree, hoping she will learn more about the man who walked out on her family along the way. Scree is a place inhabited by Peculiars: people with unusual characteristics who are branded as beings without souls. Lena, who has abnormally huge feet and hands with extra knuckles, wonders if she is half-Peculiar and if that predisposes her in any way to turn out like her father.

I haven't read books from the steam punk genre before and I have a feeling this isn't quite it. Though they were many steam punk elements that I enjoyed, like the aerocopter, I am told this is not hardcore steam punk! At the same time, I was perfectly fine with the inventions and the lore of Scree being relegated to the background. The Peculiars is all about Lena and her journey of self doubt leading to self acceptance.

Lena was a character I didn't exactly relate to but was comfortable with. I enjoyed watching her learn more about herself and despite the moments of being made to feel she was dangerous because of her heritage gnawing at her, she emerged stronger than ever! I found myself cheering for her during the moments when she finally neared self acceptance!

I enjoyed getting to know the other characters as well. Mr. Beasley was an absolute marvel but I wondered what drove him to become the person he was. I liked Jimson... I didn't love him but he seemed right for Lena! Mr. Mumbles, the Scree cat, gradually stole my heart as well the way pets in books usually do! I loved that the book was never in a rush to say what it had to say. This may also be the very thing people may not like about this book but it worked for me.

I thought the chapter titles were charmingly quaint and were a better reflection of the book than the cover or the blurb. The interesting bunch of characters, backdrop of the1800s, Mr. Beasley's Zephyr House and the existence and continued persecution of the Peculiars lent a unique atmosphere to this slow paced but heartfelt coming of age story! The Peculiars was a slow but worthwhile read for me. I'm definitely glad I got to read this book!

Publication date: 1st May, 2012
Publisher: ABRAMS/Amulet Books
Source: NetGalley
Links: Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


  1. I'm intrigued by this book. Your review is actually the first positive one I've across for The Peculiars and I'm wondering whether I should check it out or not.
    I don't think I'd like a slow-paced book, but you made it seem like an enjoyable read.

    Thanks for the lovely review, Pooja ! :)

  2. Sorry it wasn't quite as thrilling as the summary says, but it does make me a bit curious. I love the cover too, and a boy librarian? How fun is that?! Aww...that cat sounds wonderful too. Thanks for the review.


  3. Sounds intriguing - thanks for the review. I'm not sure I've read any "proper" steampunk though there seem to be more and more stories with elements of it thrown in the mix.

  4. Awesome review, I enjoyed this, but agree while there were elements of steampunk, it wasn't a true steampunk novel.

  5. Yes, I do love this cover -- and I love the sound of this book too! I don't read very many historical type books, but this one doesn't sound like your average one. And besides, I've always loved the 1800s because of how steampunkish it usually is! I'm really intrigued by this aerocopter thing. Is it sort of like some cool steampunkish airplane? :)

    Awesome review, Ajoop! I hope I enjoy this one as much as you did -- slow pace or not, it sounds like a great read! :) <3

  6. Even though this wasn't perfect in terms of world-building and main character, I'm glad you thought this to be a worthwhile read overall. Amazing review, Ajoop! I've been meaning to get round to this for ages and your review is the push I need. :)

  7. I want this book to be totally awesome with such an amazing cover! I haven't heard too much about this book, but I'll have to possibly check it out. The whole 1800's setting really intrigues me.

  8. Thanks, I'll keep it in mind when I'm searching out my next read. :-)

  9. Fantastic review, Ajoop! <3 I really need to read more YA from steampunk genre! I think ooks from this genre always have the coolest cover ever! x) I like fast-paced books, but books with slow pacing are amazing too! I don't feel rushed at all so I can enjoy the reading experience even more! x) Definitely adding this book to my wishlist! <3

  10. Grr, I hate it when a plot summary is misleading! There are way too many that offer a fast paced thriller or whatever and end up being...not. I don't think I've read a proper steampunk book! Although this wasn't a hardcore one, it sounds interesting all the same. I've been in the "don't relate to the heroine but like her enough" boat before. I'm glad overall this book was enjoyable for you! <3

  11. Hi Ajoop. That's unfortunate that the description didn't quite match the book but I'm glad you enjoyed it overall. It's sounds very different from what I normally read but it sounds interesting. Lovely review! :)

  12. The cover is gorgeous!! I've never tried a Steampunk novel so I'm always worried about how I would get on! Sorry that some parts of the book didn't work out for you! But I'm glad overall you enjoyed it! :)

  13. It is always interesting to read a differing opinion. We agree on all the points except that I just can't wholeheartedly recommend it because of the slow pace and lack of fire. Lena actually annoyed me a bit, too. The nature vs nuture debate was the best part. For a good steampunk, try Girl in the Steel Corset.

  14. The premise of this book is fantastic and I agree - the cover is stunning! It's a shame it wasn't fast-paced enough to be thrilling but I'm glad you did enjoy it :) I've never read a steam-punk book before so I will keep an eye out for this! Fantastic review, Ajoop! <3


HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)