The Peculiars

( 21 )

Overview


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, ...
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The Peculiars

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Overview


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.

Praise for The Peculiars
STARRED REVIEW
"McQuerry offers a brooding northwest setting touched by steampunk elements to tell a story that is in equal parts inventive fantasy, light romance, and thrilling adventure. With a backdrop as strong as its heroine, this one is a page-turner."
--Booklist, starred review

The Peculiars combines a teenage girl’s search for her identity with a setting that merges the genres of fantasy, gothic and steampunk. A light romance, a bit of adventure and the author’s inclusion of historical notes complete this delightful offering.”
--BookPage

"Readers graduating from the stories of C.S. Lewis and Edward Eager will be right at home—and cat lovers will adore Jimson’s employer’s pet, Mrs. Mumbles."
--Publishers Weekly

"A creative, entertaining, and wholly original fantasy."
--The Horn Book

"Richly atmospheric read."
--Kirkus Reviews

Award
YALSA 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though Lena Mattacascar is a decisive 18-year-old, her journey from middle-class respectability to adventuress has a youthful air of fantasy about it. She leaves the city, where she has grown up, by train to travel to Scree, an uncharted wilderness of “indigenous folks” and deported convicts, with an earnest young librarian named Jimson Quiggley as her seatmate and the dour eye of marshal Thomas Saltre upon them. Lena cannot stop thinking about her mysterious father, who disappeared in a cloud of infamy when she was young, or about the possibility that there is a soulless “Peculiar” in her family tree (Lena is highly self-conscious about her large, extra-jointed hands and feet). Scree is the place where Lena’s questions might be answered, but arriving there just multiplies them. Readers graduating from the stories of C.S. Lewis and Edward Eager will be right at home—and cat lovers will adore Jimson’s employer’s pet, Mrs. Mumbles. McQuerry’s extensive world-building leaves open the possibility of future installments, though the questions Lena is left with are the kind answered less by adventuring than by growing up. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sandra Bishop, MacGregory Literary Agency. (May)
VOYA - Amy Sisson
In The Peculiars, Lena Mattacascar turns eighteen and promptly leaves home to seek her father in the northern wilderness called Scree, where individuals known as Peculiars are rumored to live. Born with excessively large hands and feet, Lena is worried that she is half-Peculiar, or more specifically half-Goblin, a dangerous heritage to possess in a country where Peculiars can be persecuted without repercussion. On her journey, Lena meets Jimson Quiggley, a librarian who works for the mysterious inventor Mr. Beasley, as well as a handsome marshal named Thomas Saltre. Hoping that the lawmen will help her locate her father's trail, she allows him to talk her into spying on Mr. Quiggley and Mr. Beasley. While The Peculiars is competently written on the prose level, the plot is slow and the world rather pedestrian. The book's attractive cover misleads by showcasing a sensual blond with wings surrounded by steampunk tropes, when in reality the winged girl is a minor character and the book's setting lacks the charm readers have come to expect from the popular steampunk genre. While the story finally picks up when Lena learns that Mr. Beasley has been helping Peculiars pass as normal or escape to less hostile environments, and she finally must choose a side, the book's resolution is perfunctory and too open-ended to be satisfying. In today's exploding, versatile YA marketplace, it seems likely this book may please only the most voracious readers. Reviewer: Amy Sisson
Children's Literature - Allison Fetters
When Lena Mattagascar turns eighteen, she decides to go in search of her father. She has high hopes of finding answers to the question if she is part goblin, or a Peculiar, as her kind is known in that part of the world. Mystery is in the air as she sets off on her journey. From the beginning of her journey, she encounters a young, soon-to-be librarian named Jimson who becomes a friend. They arrive in Knoster and go their separate ways but before long, Lena finds herself going in search for Jimson and the strange scientist, Mr. Beasley, for whom Jimson works. She must secure a guide into Scree, the strange and dangerous land of the Peculiars, as she continues the search for her father. Throughout the experience, Lena is a levelheaded young girl who is smart to be cautious about those she can trust as life presents her with unexpected twists and turns. From the beginning of the book until the very last page, the reader is enthralled by the story line and remains in excited anticipation of what will happen next during Lena's extraordinary adventure. Reviewer: Allison Fetters
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Set in an alternative version of the late 1800s, The Peculiars successfully weaves fact, fiction, and fantasy into a riveting adventure tale. Lena Mattacascar is a particularly sympathetic protagonist struggling to find a sense of self under difficult circumstances. On her 18th birthday she's given a letter and a small legacy from the father who's been absent most of her life. Since hearing about his "goblinish" ways her entire adolescence and wondering if she takes after him, Lena sets off to Scree, a wild land on the edges of civilization where "peculiars" are thought to gather. The action starts on the train ride there when a prisoner being transported to Scree is kidnapped and Lena meets a scientific-minded young gentleman who is intrigued, but not repulsed by her unusually large hands and feet. A well-paced plot and compelling characters that develop throughout the book make this easy to read and hard to put down. Themes of acceptance, character, and self-determination are explored without superseding the beautifully crafted story. A wonderful read, recommended for all collections.Sunnie Sette, New Haven Public Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Lonely Lena Mattacascar heads to the border to find a father she barely remembers and an answer to her unusual appearance. Armed with a letter and money from her absent father, 18-year-old Lena leaves her dour mother and grandmother and takes the train toward Scree--wilderness, penal colony and rumored reservation for Peculiars, humanoid creatures with tell-tale abnormalities. Cursed with elongated fingers and feet, Lena both fears that she may be a Peculiar and hopes that she may find acceptance in Scree. Obstacles plague Lena's journey, and she is soon stranded in the faded seaside town of Knob Knoster. While seeking a guide and more money for her expedition, she finds herself working at Mr. Beasley's steampunk-esque Zephyr House alongside the endearingly earnest librarian Jimson Quiggley, on a secret mission from the charismatic blackmailer Marshal Saltre. Set in a vaguely Victorian world, Gothic elements permeate the story: a mysterious house, an abundance of secrets, odd servants and competing romantic figures, though Lena's shame over her abnormalities alienates her from both Saltre and Quigley. The sporadic action scenes feel artificial, but the ambiguity surrounding the existence of Peculiars and the origin of their physical deformities--magic? genetics?--is thought-provoking. A slow but richly atmospheric read. (Steampunk. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419712067
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • Publication date: 3/18/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 638,846
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Maureen Doyle McQuerry is an award-winning poet and author and a teacher specializing in YA literature and writing. She was the 2000 McAuliffe Fellow for Washington state. Her poems regularly appear in the Southern Review, Atlanta Review, and others. She lives in Richland, Washington. Visit her online at www.maureenmcquerry.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2012

    Interesting tale

    A delightful read. Engadging characters and a uniquely created world. Nothing is what it seems upon first look. As the saying is true don't judge a book by its cover, don't judge events that happen upon first appearences. Things are not always as black and white as they appear and be prepared for the unexpected.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Lgxbgxbkv

    Five stars!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2012

    A Fantastical and fun page turner, The Peculiars has me hooked!

    A Fantastical and fun page turner, The Peculiars has me hooked!
    A wonderful entrée into the steam punk genre, McQuerry creates a richly developed world full of multifaceted (and multi-jointed!) people, fascinating inventions, locations that come vividly alive, and characters who you will be loathe to put down when the book is finished. While so many books in the YA market try for cheap shock value, The Peculiars sets a not only a classier tone, but one that raises the bar of today’s best-sellers. She elicits true suspense, not only in the plot, but in the characters themselves. Others have elaborated on both so I will not reiterate here. But I will say I found the characters completely relatable, even in their “peculiarity,” and found myself wanting to know more – especially about Jimson and Mr. Beasley. One minute you think you know the character, but then more is revealed, giving a deeper and intriguing picture into what bravery, love, authenticity and treachery look like. Frankly, the cat Mr. Mumbles has more nuance than most main characters in the YA novels I’ve recently read. I would heartily recommend this book to middle-schoolers and above –almost to the point of stopping people on the street and saying: read this book!

    Sequel please!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2012

    Lena Mattacascar has lived her whole life being scrutinized by h

    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 and Lena is determined to discover just exactly who her father is and, ultimately, who she herself is.
    And 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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2014

    I enjoyed the romance, adventure and crazy inventions. There wer

    I enjoyed the romance, adventure and crazy inventions. There were some nice historical details. The heroine may have been a bit too naïve at times, but she came through. Hope there are more of these.

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  • Posted November 24, 2012

    There¿s a saying that goes, ¿You can¿t judge a book by its cover

    There’s a saying that goes, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” My life pre-GoodReads often entailed that as long as the summary sounded awesome and the cover looked gorgeous, the book/s would end up coming home with me. As a result, the book/s, I eventually will find out, would either be a diamond (my first John Green book was The Abundance of Katherines when I was still in high school, which spurred my obsession with his books after the said book was finished), or a rhinestone (until this very day, I cannot get over Lauren Kate’s Fallen—now that would teach me to reach for books with pretty covers). I really thought that I had kicked the habit to the curb now that I have access to GoodReads, but this book still had me reaching for it when I was browsing my local bookstore. Before I knew it, receipts were signed and the book was already in my possession. On the ride home, I felt quite bad. What if it was a book I ended up hating? And I bought a hardcover too. Upon getting home, I immediately looked for its ratings on GoodReads, and I was horrified. Would this be Fallen Part Two? Over the next few days, I was quite sure I wanted to have it exchanged, but a little part of me was curious about the book as well. I was pretty sure I had to judge it for myself.

    I am so glad that I didn't return it.

    You have to remember I was approaching the book with bias, but I had to convince myself that I was doing the book a terrible unjustice. When I was about seventy pages in, I was still quite wary. I was waiting for The Part Where It All Goes Horribly Wrong.

    It doesn't come.

    Lena was a tad annoying—an unforgettable heroine, indeed—but I had to remind myself that it is precisely because she is impulsive that there is a story at all. Although she was oftentimes impulsive, Lena is a character that readers can relate to, whether it’s her self-consciousness with regards to her long feet and spider-like hands, her insatiable need to reconnect with an absent father, or her insatiable quest for freedom. Even at eighteen, Lena was first introduced as a sheltered young snob because of her lack of contact with the outside world, but readers will connect with Lena as she tries to make sense of possible romances, and her eventual growth into a truly adventurous and accepting spirit.

    The pacing was good, and most of the characters were in their element. Mr. Beasley in the latter part of the book, however, has lost his credibility as a real, functioning character. Sometimes, his character sounds a bit too mechanical. There were some parts in the book that I also found questionable, although I have filed it away as Mr. Beasley being too much of an easygoing eccentric.

    All in all, however, this was a good read and thoroughly enjoying. Until then, I shall remain envious, Lena Mattacascar, of both your personal growth and of your possession of Jimson Quiggley's heart.

    - Michelle of The Twins Read

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  • Posted July 14, 2012

    Overall, this book left me unsatisfied.

    This book was provided by the publisher from NetGalley This book surprised me a bit. I’d expect a lot more, but by the end of the book, not much had been resolved. I wasn’t at all fond of the heroine. She thought she was quite clever, but sadly she wasn’t very bright. She was a horrible judge of character, made extremely poor decisions, and pretty much made life difficult for those around her with her actions. I honestly can’t think of one thing the main character did which enhanced the book. For the most part, she acted more like a secondary character than the star of the show. As such, it made it difficult to want to follow her journey. The ending had a cliffhanger feel to it. As I mentioned, little had been resolved. However, there’s no indication this is book one of a series. Normally, I don’t stick with a book this long (34 days, Goodreads says). However, the book was like following breadcrumbs. I kept expecting more… hoping an event would redeem the entire book. Alas, this book remain just shy of interesting–enough appeal to get me to read a few paragraphs at a time but not enough to keep me engaged for very long. I started this book expecting to truly enjoy it. I’m just so shocked I found so little to like about it. Overall, this book left me unsatisfied.

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  • Posted June 28, 2012

    This book is sweet, with a steampunk influence, and raises quest

    This book is sweet, with a steampunk influence, and raises questions that are relevant today, despite the story being set in the 1800s. The characters are well thought out and have their own personalities, even the cat. There are nice little twists in the story, as well as a healthy amount of suspense and intrigue. This story is a great way to introduce the evils of discrimination to kids without being preachy or sounding like an after-school special. The ending is open enough for a sequel, and any continuation of these colorful characters would certainly be welcome.

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  • Posted June 14, 2012

    Maureen McQuerry has created a unique and stand-out world. Whil

    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.

    The book clearly has a steampunk look to it and while it has steampunk elements it is most certainly 'light' on the steampunk. There is an inventor but there was not much description of his inventions, they just 'were'. They did some traveling in aerocopter (flying machine) and some other things, but nothing real major. I was happy with what was there, but if you're expecting a crazy steampunk ride you may be disappointed. On the other hand, if you've held off on reading this because you don't enjoy steampunk then please don't let that hold you back. The steampunk is a very minor aspect in the story.

    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 book would have been an outstanding read for me if it wasn't for the main character. I had a few issues with her and her decisions. She makes some pretty stupid choices and I could have maybe understood it better if the reasoning had been backed up just a little more. I needed to be more convinced about why she would do what she did. I was able to look past this aspect because so much of the rest of the story was fantastic. I also really liked the other characters. Jimson was a character that I couldn't help but like. He was a boy that craved knowledge and adventure. And I would have maybe liked him a bit more fleshed out, but I still liked him quite a lot. Mr. Beasley was a fascinating character as well and was one I could imagine so well. Kind of the crazy genius/doctor/inventor sort with weird drawn on eyebrows but was so kind and understanding of everything. Now my most favorite character of all was the cat, Mrs. Mumbles. I don't want to say too much, but this is a cat with character! Any cat lover will fall head over hills for her!

    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!

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  • Posted May 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review by Jill Williamson This is a fun book. Totally clean. Le

    Review by Jill Williamson

    This is a fun book. Totally clean. Lena is shy and naive, self-conscious of how she looks, especially in regards to her hands and feet. Jimson is loyal to Mr. Beasley and enthralled with invention and progress. He doesn't care much for Lena's faith, which adds some interesting discussions here and there. And Mr. Beasley is the enigmatic inventor, who reminded me somewhat of Doc Brown in the Back to the Future movies.

    I enjoyed the premise of what makes one human. The Peculiars with their strange deformities are said to be unable to go to heaven by missionaries in the story. The missionaries were written as firm legalists to their beliefs, though one changed her mind in the end. I'll be interested to see where the author takes this subplot.

    Lena's search for her father gets derailed by the marshal's quest, but it all comes around in the end. Her confusion about who to trust is likely a relatable experience for a young woman inexperienced with advances from a handsome man. The marshal is sneaky--I didn't trust him. But I could see how Lena might. This is not a fast-paced book, but I was never bored and look forward to the second book in the series. This is a fun, thoughtful, clean read.

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  • Posted May 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Peculiar is right...

    On Lena's 18th birthday, she is given a letter from her long lost father. It contains a small inheritance which Lena decides to use as purchase of an adventure to find who, or what, she is. For Lena believes she is a Peculiar. The Peculiars are, for lack of a better word, mutants banished from acceptable society. Lena spent her entire youth hiding who she is and is ready to find a place she belongs, perhaps in Scree - the land of Peculiars. Along the way she will meet an enthusiastic librarian, a mad scientist, a charming lawman, a winged woman and a cat who's crying sounds like human mumbling. But will she find herself?

    First, let me speak to the cover (as I am such a sucker for a great cover).... It is beautiful and pulled me in immediately. Big applause there.

    Now to the plot. McQuerry's world in The Peculiars is interesting and intriguing. It has a Victorian/ Steampunk feel, which I am a fan of. It was mysterious and exciting and I loved it.

    However, the characters inside the world didn't draw me in as much as I had wanted to. Lena herself started out great as an awkward, somewhat sheltered girl but she never felt fully developed to me. Other characters seemed a bit pointless even. Honestly my favorite character was the cat.

    It's a solid good book, just not over the top memorable.

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    The Peculiars is a find-yourself, find your way kind of story. A

    The Peculiars is a find-yourself, find your way kind of story. After reading the synopsis, I was immediately drawn in - and the cover helped as well! However, I found this book slow and drawn out. I love detail as much as the next person, but I felt the author spent too much time trying to describe everything. It picks up eventually, but even then, I found the "action" scene's just didn't compensate enough.


    The main character, Lena, annoyed me at first, but eventually she grew on me. The other main character, Jimson I loved from the start - he was probably the best part about the book.
    I haven't read a lot of Steampunk, but I was slightly disappointed about how this turned out. I hope there will be a second book, to see if it will make up for the first.

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  • Posted May 6, 2012

    (I was given this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thank

    (I was given this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to NetGalley and ABRAMS)
    18-year-old Lena has always been different. Born with strangely narrow, long hands and feet, and fingers and toes with extra joints, she has always worn gloves to try to hide her problem. Her Nana says that Lena was born this way because her father was a goblin(!) and Lena lives in fear of being labelled ‘Peculiar’.

    Living in an alternate world in the late 1800’s, criminals, and people who are ‘Peculiar’ are all sent to live in a place called Scree, where they are forced to work in the mines there as slave labour. Lena’s father disappeared – possibly to Scree –when she was 5, and on her 18th birthday her mother gives her a letter from him. The envelope also contains money and maps; maps for Scree.

    Setting off on an adventure to find her father, and to discover if she really is ‘Peculiar’, Lena voyages to the town closest to Scree. Here she intends to find a guide who can help her locate her father, and guide her through Scree.

    Disaster falls though when the train that she is on is held up by some ‘Peculiars’ and her purse is stolen. Low on funds; Lena gets a job with a man called Mr Beasley in order to earn enough money to continue on her journey. But Mr Beasley is being watched by the local Marshall, who tries to blackmail Lena into spying on Mr Beasley for him.

    Lena must now work out where her loyalties lie, whether ‘Peculiars’ really exist, and if she really is one of them.

    I really enjoyed this book. Lena was such a genuine character, who always tried her best, even when people scorned her and tried to label her ‘Peculiar’. Her mission to find her father was a journey of discovery, not only to find her elusive father, but to also learn some things about herself, and even people in general.

    The secondary characters were also great. I loved Mr Beasley and his strange inventions, and his cat that was just so clever! I also liked the fact that the story was balanced by the addition of two missionaries who were so sure that ‘peculiars’ were soulless!

    I loved the mystery surrounding the girl with wings, and the question of whether Lena really was half-peculiar or not, and what this meant for her.

    At the end of the book there were also some historical notes, explaining where the author got their information from, and the similarities and dissimilarities between Lena’s world and our own which was really interesting and showed that the author had put a lot of time and effort into researching this book.
    Well worth reading!
    8 out of 10.

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  • Posted May 5, 2012

    Great YA book!

    Peculiars, is a combination of two of my favorite things, steampunk and “peculiar” people/beings. I really enjoyed it. There are several main characters in this novel, Mr. Beasley, an eccentric inventor who has caught the attention of Thomas Saltre, a marshal, Lena, who has the characteristics of a peculiar, specifically a goblin, and Jimson, whom Lena meets on her way to Scree and is on his way to be the librarian for Mr. Beasley. The lives of all three intersect and their worlds are forever changed.

    Peculiars are people that are either part or wholly peculiar, meaning they have the traits of non-humans, (ie: offspring of peculiars) or are wholly non-human. Some are goblins, and some have angel type characteristics, these are the two mentioned in this installment. Lena’s father was a peculiar and her mother was human. Peculiars are persecuted and used as slaves, if caught, by humans in the mines of Scree. They have no rights and cannot own property. They are not allowed to live outside of Scree, based on a new decree from the government. Some people do not even believe they exist since a full peculiar had not been seen outside of Scree in a long time.

    This is an exciting book, with a lot of adventure. The plot keeps you on the edge and provides for a quick fun read. There is no sex or swearing, and a minimum of violence, nothing too bad. There is both action, suspense, mystery, and a bit of romance mixed in, making this a very enjoyable read. This book would probably be more enjoyable to a girl, though the action and inventions could be intriguing for a boy to read about as well. The romance is not overwhelming. This book is the first in a series, there is some closure to this part of the story, but you are left hanging until the next one comes out. I would definitely read the next book in this series.

    I would recommend this book for 7th grade and up. It would be fine for you to recommend to students, if you are a teacher, or to your kids, if they are looking for something new to read. There really isn’t a reason why this book would be for older Middle School kids, other than the concepts and language could be hard for a younger one to grasp.

    I received this book as an ARC. I do not get paid to review books; I do so in order to assist parents and teachers in recommending appropriate books for your kids to read.


    Please read more of my reviews on my blog: sarahereads(dot)wordpress(dot)com

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  • Posted May 4, 2012

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    Before I even go into this review, I have to be very clear that

    Before I even go into this review, I have to be very clear that I DID NOT finish this book. I will go into the reasons as to why, and why it's actually not a 1-star book, but I know some people don't consider DNF reviews as real reviews...so you can stop reading if you're one of those. :)

    The story centers on Lena Mattacascar, an 18-year-old girl who was born with a sort of oddity - extremely long, goblin-like, hands and feet. She decides to take a journey into Scree, the land where Peculiars live, to hopefully find her father who left when Lena was just a baby. She is convinced that the odd traits she has must be attributed to him, as she knows very little about who she is.


    I was completely in love with the first 25% of the book. I haven't really read any steampunk in the past and I was enthralled with the descriptions of scenery, Victorian clothing and transportation. I thought the characters were a little...meh...but there was still time for them to redeem themselves before I would consider dropping the book. The biggest problems for me started occurring after Lena had arrived at Knob Knoster and began working under Mr. Beasley at the Zephyr House. Instead of taking this time was a way to develop the characters into likeable roles, it was then that they really, REALLY started to irritate me. Everyone was too much! Pansy was TOO bratty, Lena was TOO ignorant, and the others TOO nonchalant.


    What was the deal breaker for me was Lena - gullible and far too easily trusting of the wrong people. I really don't want to give too much away (and I guess I'm not since this part is mentioned in the synopsis), but the mere fact that she trusted the Marshal, Thomas Saltre, enough so that he could coax her into spying on Mr. Beasley really disgusted me. I know she's been kind of sheltered but hello? She's 18 years old AND the book makes a point of mentioning how distrusting she is of strangers, who have often ridiculed her for her odd physical traits.


    The point where I absolutely could not read anymore was when Lena finds out the truth about what is going on at the Zephyr House and, instead of feeling guilty about "selling out" Mr. Beasley to the Marshal, she feels PITY for HERSELF! Umm what?! You've been sharing secrets and stealing Mr. Beasley's private books, yet your first instinct is to get offended because of what you think their intent was in hiring you? If I recall correctly (and I do), you kinda barged in there yourself looking for answers. Then, even after knowing the truth and being so dishonest, she still decides to let Thomas act out his plan for the Zephyr House. At this point, I knew there was no way Lena could redeem herself in my eyes. I really and truly wanted to slap her for the choices she made and how disgusting she acted.

    Whoo! That was a big rant to get off my chest but man, I love me a strong and smart heroine and Lena Mattacascar was neither. It was for this reason that this was a big DNF for me, and a two star book. Maybe other readers are not as quick to anger if their heroine has no redeeming qualities, but for me, nuh uh!

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  • Posted May 3, 2012

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    Quick Starting Read

    The story had a great quick start to it. I loved that it jumped right in and got moving with the idea of the Peculiars and Lena’s quest to visit Scree. The oddity of Lena is shown right away and the characters that she meets are all very charming. Where the story lost me was the fact that Lena is raised to be untrusting and hide her differences, but she quickly loses that nature and starts trusting people faster than I expected. While there was a small bit of steampunk thrown in, it wasn’t enough for me to give that name to the genre for the story. I wish that there was more focus on the Peculiars, but there were only small bits and pieces of those other than Lena. The characters were what drove this story, more than the journey that Lena went on.

    Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.

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  • Posted May 2, 2012

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    2.5 stars I have a love/hate relationship with Lena in this book

    2.5 stars
    I have a love/hate relationship with Lena in this book, because of all her good intentions she gets her friends and those around her into trouble and then when you think you are ready to write her off she fixes things in a way you are able to forgive her for her wrong doings and keep on enjoying the story that is unfolding in front of you.
    I love Jimson as a character she is so curios about stuff and fascinated by science and the progress it can bring to others, and I feel that his thirst for knowledge and need to doubt things makes his way of thinking more open to change and easier for him to accept all the ways his world will be twisted during his little adventure.
    The concepts in this book are interesting, racism, rejecting things we don't understand, equality, but the story doesn't shine as it should mainly because of the hard time you may have connecting with the main character and the way this story takes so long to take off, after about half the book it gets better and really enjoyable but for some it might be a little to late to get into it.

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  • Posted May 2, 2012

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    The Peculiars is a unique novel. It’s a Steampunk with dar

    The Peculiars is a unique novel. It’s a Steampunk with dark mystery, suspense, and romance. Also, its main character is a goblinism, which is a totally new kind of paranormal character for me. Maureen Doyle McQuerry has written a fresh, new storyline about goblins, which is new for me I haven’t read about goblins myself. I also like that McQuerry wrote this as a Steampunk, and that she didn't go heavy on all the gadgets. The Peculiars takes place in the time around the 1880's. I enjoyed the historical element that McQuerry brought into this storyline. I love the main character, Lena, along with Jimson. Lena is strong-minded and she will have to learn to think before she acts, which McQuerry does an excellent job of showing Lena learning this through the story. Jimson, I fell in love with. He's funny and gentle, but strong. Jimson is not scared to stand up for his beliefs or the people he cares for. Maureen Doyle McQuerry has written an amazing new Paranormal with goblins and created an incredible paranormal/historical/steampunk world.

    Lena has just turned eighteen, and her mother gives her a letter from her father who left them when Lena was five years old. But in his letter, he gives Lena her inheritance and a deed to his family’s mine in Scree. She decides to go to Scree to find out about her father's history, to see if he was a goblin. She’s always been told by her mother that her oversized hands and feet are just a birth defect, but she has to find out if she’s a Peculiar. Peculiars are not thought to be human by the government and human society, but are believed to be creatures with no souls, and the government is trying to take the Peculiars’ freedom away so that they can't live among the humans.

    On the train ride to Knob Knoster, where Lena will hire a guide so she can cross the Knob Knoster border into Scree, she meets Jimson Quiggley. Jimson is on his own adventure to Knob Knoster where he will work for Mr. Tobias Beasley as his librarian. When Jimson meets Lena on the train, you just know he’s already lost his heart to her, but there’s a little problem back home with a girl named Pansy. Jimson's father has already arranged a marriage for Jimson to marry Pansy. I love the romance with Jimson and Lena. These two keep trying to hide their feelings for each other, though I think it was very clear how Jimson feels for Lena. I can't wait till the next book to see more of Lena and Jimson's romance. It just finally did get started at the end of this first book, and this story ends with a very touching scene between them.

    Peculiars is a fantastic and intriguing dark adventure about Lena, a goblin girl who’s coming to understand who she is, and the fight she will have to faces for her rights as a Peculiars and the rights of all Peculiars. I recommend Peculiars as a fresh new adventure in YA Paranormal.

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  • Posted April 17, 2012

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    The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry is a steampunk fiction s

    The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry is a steampunk fiction set in an alternate late 1800s world. I love steampunk and was immediately drawn to the spectacular cover. Sprinkled with history, steampunk contraptions and strange folk known as Peculiars this novel kept me entertained.

    The protagonist is Lena Mattacascar and she has always known she was different. Her grandmother never lets her forget. Lena is part Goblin and has just turned eighteen. Her father, who abandoned the family years ago, left her a present for this special occasion. In an envelope she discovers a letter, some money and a deed to a mine in Scree. It is said that Scree is where Peculiars live. Lena sets out by train to Knob Knoster (a fishing town not to far from Scree). Here she hopes to hire a guide, learn more about her father, Peculiars and her own differences. Lena is relieved when the train begins to empty and she can finally relax. Just as she makes herself comfortable, in walks Jimson Quiggley. He is traveling to Knob Knoster to work as a librarian for Tobias Beasley. The two chat about things, and Lena finds him to be sweet. Events on the train, lead Lena to meet the handsome Marshall. His name is Thomas Saltre and he takes an immediate interest in Lena. When Lena arrives in Knob Knoster, she begins to look for a guide to Scree. Her path again crosses those of the Marshall and she finds herself unwittingly headed to the home of Tobias Beasley as a spy. The tale that unfolds was fascinating.

    I adored Lena and Jimson and found them to be delightful. The romance that develops between them is sweet and genuine. Lena really cannot see anyone having feelings for her or ever finding her attractive. She wonders whether or not she has a soul and wants to know more about her father. She worries that she will become like him. Tobias Beasley was an interesting character, brilliant and nutty. The Marshall, despite his handsome appearance gave me the willies. Other characters such as the cook and missionary sisters gave the tale credibility.

    The world-building was interesting and I loved the blend of history and fantasy. However, it wasn't as dark or as detailed as I was expecting. This was more of a character driven novel and didn’t have all the gadgets I have come to expect in steampunk tales. While it deals with Peculiars we don’t really get enough information on them and I wanted more back-history. I would have liked to have learned more, and perhaps been given more detail about events. The tale moved at a steady pace and was filled with moments of suspense. McQuerry’s writing was descriptive and I enjoyed her attention to detail. She brought Beasley's home, Spree and the train to life. My favorite part, was the aerocopter. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, but am hoping a second book comes along.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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