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A 2013 Newbery Honor Book
A brooding Dickensian novel with a touch of fantasy and a glimmer of hope. . . Vividly portrayed and complex, the characters are well defined individuals whose separate strands of story are colorful and compelling. Schlitz weaves them into an intricate tapestry that is as mysterious and timeless as a fairy tale.
—Booklist (starred review)
Two orphans, a witch and a girl who laughs at death: Each shares the lens of protagonist in Newbery-winner Schlitz’s fully satisfying gothic novel...Schlitz’s prose is perfect in every stitch, and readers will savor each word.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Victorian London could be a magical place: horse-drawn carriages, puppet shows, elaborate upper-class houses. Of course it could also be miserable: fog, filthy streets, shabby hovels where too many people live in too few rooms. Schlitz conjures both the magic and the mundane here. . . .Schlitz uses such evocative language that readers will practically smell dirty London and then be relieved by the crisp, cold air in the countryside around the witch’s crumbling mansion. The characters are recognizable tropes: the witch is rotting from the inside out; the orphans may be dirty and ill-bred, but they have spirit and pluck; the little rich girl is actually sad and lonely; the skinny puppeteer and the overly dramatic landlady are recognizably Dickensian. Yet, they are so well drawn that they are never caricatures, but people whom readers will cheer for, be terrified of, or grow to like. The plot is rich with supernatural and incredibly suspenseful elements. Fans of mystery, magic, and historical fiction will all relish this novel.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Few books can be called both delightful and eerie - this novel is one. Utterly transporting.
—Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal Winner
Settle down; prepare for mesmerism: Laura Amy Schlitz is behind the curtain, ready to show us a story that has real magic lacing through it.
—Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and What the Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy
Thrilling and masterful. The characters are real humans, trapped upon the page as if by magic. The plotting is relentless . . . and then resolves into a perfect crystal. The book is beautiful. You will bark with laughter and you will cry. I did.
—Adam Gidwitz, author of A Tale Dark and Grimm
A wonderfully twisty, creepy melodrama with three heroes to love, two villains to hate, and then at the end — but I won't tell, except to say it's totally satisfying.
—Nancy Werlin, National Book Award finalist and Edgar Award winner
The book builds slowly and ends stunningly.
[A] superb gothic novel…Vivid and strange, this latest work by Ms. Schlitz—a Newbery Medal-winner—is, like a marionette show that the orphans see one night, a spectacle "sharp-edged, exquisite, and eerily alive."
—Wall Street Journal
This thrilling Dickensian novel weaves a tale of sorcery and magic that will mesmerize with its intricate plot and wicked but endearing characters.
As the author unravels the mystery, she explores the many levels on which the characters themselves serve as puppets. Schlitz proves herself a master storyteller as she skillfully maneuvers the strings of this gothic tale right up to the astonishing climax.
—Shelf Awareness for Readers
Middle-schoolers not quite ready for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus can revel in this lusciously atmospheric title of rival magicians and the children caught in their crossfire.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
Besides the rich language, setting and plot, SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS features an utterly delicious story that weaves its spell through the fortunes of innocent and not-so-innocent children, the cadaverous puppet master, a dying witch eager for revenge and dramatic action in a castle tower that will have readers as entranced as Grisini’s audiences.
t is exceedingly rare to find an author who hits it out of the park, so to speak, every single time she writes. Ms. Schlitz has written six published works for children and not one has been anything but remarkable. As adept at fairy stories as fairytales, at straight biographies or melodramatic ghost stories, at long last we see what she can do with a Dickensian setting. Result: She does wonders. Wonders and splendors with just a hint of gloom. The sole downside is sitting and waiting for her next book. If it’s half as good as this one, it’ll be worth the wait.
—Fuse #8 Production (SLJ blog)
Posted October 17, 2012
Posted December 27, 2012
Posted January 19, 2013
I absolutely loved this story. Great use of "real" magic, I loved how well it performed as a period peice. Please read the sample if you are unsure if you would like this book. Then get the book. I feel it wont dissapoint.
11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 17, 2013
Posted March 20, 2013
Posted February 22, 2013
Not just for kids, it is a magical world for the young of heart at any age.
I picked it up to give to my son to read and loved it myself. Written by a Newberry Medal Winner who never delivers a less-than-stellar book. A confused little girl. A master puppeteer. A missing child. A witch. Betrayal via a criminal past of one you trust. Dickens-era locale. Mystery. Magic. Written for ages 9 and up, but caution for kids: the initial premise begins with reference to the death of children and the guilt of the child who survived. Once I started, I couldn't put it down.
- Clay Stafford, author and founder of Killer Nashville
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2013
I thought this book was depressing, dark, and gruesome when i first started reading it. But yhen i kept reading and i couldnt put it down. It kept me reading past dark (which is not normal for me haha.) Ii found that i could relate a lot to the characters in the book, except grisini :) Dont hesitate to read this book, just read it!
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2013
Posted March 2, 2013
Posted November 19, 2013
Posted August 8, 2013
Posted July 27, 2013
Posted April 14, 2013
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Posted August 18, 2014
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Posted January 31, 2014
SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS takes magic and fantasy a dark direction at the same time that the young characters attain strength, dignity, and the light of goodness. A Dickensian world creates a realistic background for hard choices and compromised morality, as the orphans, Parsefall and Lizzie Rose, come to grips with the danger to themselves and others. Parsefall,in particular, copes with that world by compromise and manipulation, even as his true self comes to the fore when he begins to comprehend what the puppet master has created. The Wintermute family provide readers with an understanding of the tragic elements of Victorian life for even the rich, when death, unexpected and terrible, alters their world forever. Retreat from joy, survivor guilt, and adherence to mourning control Clara's life to the point that she becomes a participant in her own abduction--unwilling though she is--to escape her stifling existence in the splendor of her own home.
Witches, puppets, the battle between good and evil, and the innocence of children come together in a morality play that never preaches. Even the names evoke time and place--and they indicate the reading level expected. This is no simple children's story.
Posted January 25, 2014
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Posted October 15, 2012
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Posted June 24, 2013
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