The Whatnot

The Whatnot

3.3 3
by Stefan Bachmann

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Oh, the Sly King, the Sly King, in his towers of ash and wind.

Pikey Thomas doesn't know how or why he can see the changeling girl. But there she is. Not in the cold, muddy London neighborhood where Pikey lives. Instead, she's walking through the trees and snow of the enchanted Old Country or, later, racing through an opulent hall. She's pale and

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Oh, the Sly King, the Sly King, in his towers of ash and wind.

Pikey Thomas doesn't know how or why he can see the changeling girl. But there she is. Not in the cold, muddy London neighborhood where Pikey lives. Instead, she's walking through the trees and snow of the enchanted Old Country or, later, racing through an opulent hall. She's pale and small, and she has branches growing out of her head. Her name is Henrietta Kettle.

Pikey's vision, it turns out, is worth something. Worth something to Hettie's brother—a brave adventurer named Bartholomew Kettle. Worth something to the nobleman who protects him. And Pikey is not above bartering—Pikey will do almost anything to escape his past; he'll do almost anything for a life worth living.

The faeries—save for a mysterious sylph and a mischievous cobble faery or two— have been chased out of London. They've all gone north. The army is heading north, too. So Pikey and Bartholomew follow, collecting information, piecing together clues, searching for the doorway that will lead them to Hettie.

The Whatnot is the enthralling, surprising, and unforgettable companion to Stefan Bachmann's internationally bestselling debut novel The Peculiar.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/09/2013
In this exhilarating, violent sequel to The Peculiar, Bartholomew, a half-fairy changeling, and Pikey Thomas, a penniless 12-year-old street boy with a magical eye, wander a steampunkish Victorian London in search of Bartholomew’s kidnapped sister, Hettie. Bartholomew, Hettie, and Pikey—seemingly mere pawns in the heated dispute between fairies and the English—all have the potential to influence the approaching war. Bachmann writes with a skill that belies his youth. His imagination tends toward the surreal, and he has a genius for envisioning fairy magic and architecture, as in his description of a vast, fluctuating fairy house that Hettie explores: “Sometimes she would step into a hallway that was being reconstructed and would discover a wall behind her where seconds before there had been a door, or that all the panels had been flipped and what had looked like a regular corridor before, now looked like a deep forest of red and rust-colored mushrooms.” Readers will want to start with The Peculiar, and immediately dive into this fine tale. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Megibow, Nelson Literary Agency. (Sept.)
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Jan Chapman
In this companion novel to Bachmann’s quirky fantasy, The Peculiar (Greenwillow, 2012), readers are introduced once again to the intrepid adventurer and “peculiar” Bartholomew Kettle. As the novel begins, war is imminent between the humans and the fairies. The fairies have deserted London and are heading north. Bartholomew’s sister, Hettie, has been lured into the Old Country, the sinister realm of the fairies. Bartholomew is determined to find and rescue her. He joins forces with a London street urchin named Pikey, who has the ability to scry what is happening to Hettie. Bartholomew and Pikey must follow the fairies north to discover a portal between this world and the Old Country. This creepily charming fantasy fuses the vivid characters of Charles Dickens with the darkly imaginative storytelling of Neil Gaiman. Bachmann’s prose is polished and assured, with a compelling story that will delight fans of J.K. Rowling. Both plot and characters are brilliantly contrived and addictive. Many readers will empathize with Pikey’s struggle to survive a hostile world that rejects those who are “different.” Teens who enjoyed The Peculiar, as well as those who enjoy dark fantasy such as Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008/Voya August 2008), will be thrilled with this companion book. Reviewer: Jan Chapman; Ages 11 to 15.
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Readers of Bachmann’s book, The Peculiar, should be delighted to dive into this companion book. At the end of The Peculiar, Hettie, a changeling, has been snatched by the nefarious Lord Lickerish’s faery butler. Bartholomew—“Barthy”—her changeling brother is desperate to find her. Remember, changelings, part human and part faery, are barely tolerated in the surreal London where they live. “Don’t get yourself noticed, and you won’t get yourself hanged.” is more than a family motto, it is lifesaving advice. Forget what you know about the fairy folk. In Bachmann’s world they are malevolent, ugly, annoying, and currently at war with humankind. Barthy, funded my Mr. Jelliby (from The Peculiar), is looking for a door to the old country where he is convinced Hettie has been taken. Barthy teams up with Pikey, a street urchin who has spied Hettie in a vision. Rescue is imperative. Hettie is now “owned” by Piscaltine, a she-villain so inhuman, selfish, and cruel that she would make the Wicked Witch of the West look like a girl scout. Piscaltine regards Hettie as a “whatnot,” who can be killed like a bug on a whim. She has also renamed her Maud. Piscaltine is not the only danger. Her house is so awful that the grandfather clock tells moods, not time. Other occupants of the house include “pity fairies,” so named because they are without any, and various visitors and staff who find Hettie as annoying as a cockroach. Little Hettie is hungry, dirty, ragged, and very frightened. How much longer can she last? Bachmann has written a literary macramé of a story with countless plot twists, turns and knots, plus unique characters introduced here and there like richly decorated beads. He is truly a one-of-a-kind. My advice: read both books together with no time in between. Even then you may have to keep notes. Reviewer: Judy Crowder; Ages 10 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—This sequel to The Peculiar (HarperCollins, 2012) is an enthralling read in its own right, but even better for those acquainted with the first book. Bachmann combines the pleasures of a Dickensian cast of characters with the eldritch qualities of British faerie lore and adds a touch of steampunk to entice readers into an alternate universe in which the English are on the verge of war with the fay. Pikey Thomas is an urchin who's been "fairy-touched," which has left him with one eye that can see into the Old Country, but also endangers him in a society that is hostile to anything connected to faeries. Moreover, his real eye seems to be on a pendant around the neck of Hettie, the little girl who was captured by faeries in The Peculiar. Her brother, Bartholomew, has been trying to rescue her ever since and, when he comes across Pikey in a London prison, he effects the boy's release and enlists his aid. Bachmann writes with unnerving assurance for someone so young. (He was still in his teens when he completed the two books.) He describes an army camp: "It spilled out of the huddle of low stone houses like intestines from a goat's belly." The breathtaking beauty of his prose is coupled with a plot that also leaves his audience breathless.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
At the end of The Peculiar (2012), Bachmann's debut, the evil faery Mr. Lickerish had used half-faery Bartholomew's little sister, Hettie, as a Door to open the way between England and the Old Country; here is what happens next. Years have passed in England, and humans are winning the country back from the faeries. One-eyed orphan Pikey (his other was stolen one night, a clouded, useless orb left in its place) ekes out a meager existence in London's underbelly. When a faery returns a favor with an astonishing gem, he tries to pawn it and, predictably, ends up in deep trouble. Meanwhile, Hettie struggles to survive in the Old Country, where just a few days have passed. Captured by the lady Piscaltine and kept as her pet Whatnot, Hettie waits in terror for Bartholomew to rescue her. The story alternates between the Old Country and England, between twig-haired Hettie and Pikey; somehow, he can see her through his clouded eye, which makes him very valuable to Bartholomew, who rescues him from jail for its sake. Bachmann unleashes his boundless imagination in his descriptions of the Old Country, whose rules and landscape are capricious and ever-changing. Hettie's terror is well-justified. Detail upon baroque detail piles up as Bartholomew and Pikey race to find Hettie, the war between humans and faeries inevitably catching them up in it--as does friendship. It's a bleak and breathless read, one that will have readers hoping for a peaceful outcome as fervently as its characters do. (Fantasy. 10-15)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Peculiar , #2
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Sales rank:
680L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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