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The Peculiar

The Peculiar

4.3 27
by Stefan Bachmann

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The international bestseller and debut novel by teenage author and classical musician Stefan Bachmann is part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part clockwork adventure. Best-selling author Rick Riordan said of The Peculiar, "Stefan Bachmann breathes fresh life into ancient magic."

Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged. In


The international bestseller and debut novel by teenage author and classical musician Stefan Bachmann is part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part clockwork adventure. Best-selling author Rick Riordan said of The Peculiar, "Stefan Bachmann breathes fresh life into ancient magic."

Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged. In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew and his little sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are Peculiars, and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them. But when Peculiars start showing up in London murdered and covered with red tattoos, Bartholomew breaks all the rules and gets himself noticed. Full of magic, dazzling inventions, and intriguing characters such as Mr. Jelliby and Lord Lickerish, this story of friendship, bravery, and nonstop action adventure was hailed by best-selling author Christopher Paolini as "swift, strong, and entertaining. Highly recommended." The Peculiar ends with a spectacular cliff-hanger, and the story concludes in The Whatnot.

Editorial Reviews

“Bachmann’s prose is beautiful, and his story is swift, strong, and entertaining. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to see what Bachmann writes next.”
“Stefan Bachmann’s sparkling debut is sure to get a lot of well-deserved notice. He breathes fresh life into ancient magic.”
Christopher Paolini
"Bachmann’s prose is beautiful, and his story is swift, strong, and entertaining. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to see what Bachmann writes next."
Rick Riordan
“Stefan Bachmann’s sparkling debut is sure to get a lot of well-deserved notice. He breathes fresh life into ancient magic.”
Marie Lu
“The Peculiar has the kind of enchantment, whimsy, and utter wonder that stands the test of time. An astounding debut!”
Los Angeles Times
“Polished and fun to read…Bachmann’s steampunk fairy tale…recalls Dostoevsky, Dickens, and more recent classics, such as J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.…Bachmann leavens the dark goings-on with whimsy…in spectacular and hilarious fashion.…[An] unusually gifted young writer.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Richly realized . . . accomplished … This is a story young fantasy buffs are sure to enjoy.”
“Imaginative, highly descriptive writing . . . Thrilling adventure.”
Publishers Weekly
When a teenager writes a publishable book, it’s noteworthy, but when the book is this good, it’s something special. Bachmann sets his tale in a polluted, steampunk Victorian England rendered even stranger by a faery invasion in the previous century. Some of the fay—like Lord Lickerish, Lord Chamberlain of England—have grown powerful, but most live in poverty, deeply distrusted by the natives, with the half-human changelings despised by everyone. Bartholomew, a changeling, sees a friend abducted by magic in broad daylight and later learns it is the latest in a string of disappearances. Meanwhile, a government official, Arthur Jelliby (“a very nice young man, which was perhaps the reason why he had never made much of a politician”), finds dangerous information linking Lord Lickerish to the kidnappings. Together Jelliby and Bartholonew uncover a horrible secret that might destroy England. Bachmann, now 18, has a polished and witty writing style; his characters are skillfully developed, the action is nonstop, and his faery society is fascinating. An absolute treat for readers of any age. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Megibow, Nelson Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Ready for a reading adventure? Dive into the world of The Peculiar to travel to a place filled with faeries, humans, hobgoblins, wolves that pull carriages, humans who live in luxury, and mechanical—that's right, mechanical—messenger birds. Unfortunately, Bartholomew (Barthy), our unlikely hero, is none of these. He is a peculiar, a changeling, half human and half faery. And in his world, a changeling is an abomination, detested by many and deserving of death. "Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged" is the rule Bartholomew and his sister, Hettie, live by. Bartholomew could perhaps pass as human, even with his thin, wiry body, faery eyes like big, black pools, and chestnut hair, but Hettie, with her faery eyes, pointed ears, and green branches instead of hair, could not. When Barthy spies an odd, glamorous woman on their street, Old Crow Alley, then witnesses her kidnapping of a little peculiar from the Buddelbinster's house across the way, Barthy's instincts go on high alert. After that, when tales surface about changelings being murdered and found with their bodies hollowed out, Barthy resolves to protect his sister no matter what. Here, the worlds of Bath and London bear little resemblance to the real thing. Imagine an England whose architects are Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling, Edgar Allen Poe, Disney, Lewis Carol, Dr. Seuss and H.G. Welles and you might understand the world Barthy must navigate in this remarkable first novel. Add in characters like Arthur Jelliby, Barthy's unlikely ally, and folks like John Wednesday Lickerish, Jack Box, a talkative greenwitch and more and you will have a compelling read that young readers shouldn't be able to put down. Bachmann is a masterful writer who ends this book with such a menacing cliff hanger that you will be anxious to grab a copy of this young author's second book, The Whatnot, as soon as possible. Whew! Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—This gripping debut novel opens with a prologue that describes how the fairies left their own land, came to England, fought a war with the humans, and lost, leading to a mechanical Age of Smoke where church bells, iron, and mechanics are used to prevent magic. In this alternative world, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister, Hettie, are changelings, also called Peculiars, children of a human mother and a faery father who has abandoned the family. They live in the faery slums of Bath and follow their mother's rule, "Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged." When Bartholomew watches a beautiful lady from his window, she notices him, and his adventures begin. The lady is involved in a plot whose victims are changeling children, and when Hettie is kidnapped, Bartholomew joins forces with Arthur Jelliby, a member of Parliament who is investigating the plot and sees the boy as a person, not just a Peculiar. Arthur and Bartholomew begin to understand the scale of the plan and the danger that faces all of England, and they travel across the country to gather clues and save Hettie. Bachmann began writing this novel when he was only 16, and he's still a teenager, making the atmospheric writing and tense plotting even more of an accomplishment. The Peculiar combines fantasy, mystery, and suspense with a wry humor and unusual characters to create an intriguing, thought-provoking whole that will leave readers looking forward to sequels. Fans of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, 2008) and young steampunk enthusiasts will find much here to enjoy.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
Kirkus Reviews
Goblins, faeries, gnomes, elflike fay, sylphs, automatons and changelings, oh my! In an alternate Victorian England where there are vertical cities, faery slums, gnome-driven taxis, and mechanical birds, changelings Bartholomew and his sister Hettie are labeled "peculiars" by the Church. Despised by both the Sidhe and the English upper-crust, they have been kept, confined and secret, in their house. When Bartholomew witnesses a boy changeling across the street being kidnapped by a mysterious woman in a frenzy of menacing black feathers, he becomes an unwitting pawn in a battle between the dark side and the humans. Tension mounts like a stack of teetering blocks as Bartholomew tries to rescue Hettie, who is in danger of becoming the 10th kidnapped changeling killed. Can he survive to save his sister? The open ending paves the way for sequels, and the intricately detailed descriptions of sinister scenes create palpable evil that will raise readers' hackles. The author was only 16 in 2010, when he began writing this fantasy stemming from British folklore and infused with a Dickensian flair; it's bound to be hyped like Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. Not to be confused with a new steampunk novel for teens with the title of The Peculiars, by Maureen McQuerry (2012). A promising, atmospheric fantasy debut. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 Years

What People are Saying About This

Christopher Paolini

“Bachmann’s prose is beautiful, and his story is swift, strong, and entertaining. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to see what Bachmann writes next.”

Rick Riordan

“Stefan Bachmann’s sparkling debut is sure to get a lot of well-deserved notice. He breathes fresh life into ancient magic.”

Meet the Author

Stefan Bachmann is the author of the internationally bestselling novel The Peculiar and its acclaimed sequel, The Whatnot. He was born in Colorado, spent most of his childhood in Switzerland, and is now studying modern music at the Zürich University of the Arts. When he’s not writing, he can be found traveling to someplace chilly, or holed up beneath his college in the dimly lit labyrinth of practice rooms, which may have inspired the subterranean scenes in A Drop of Night. That . . . and the Paris catacombs, a weird dream about a golden corridor, and a general interest in history.

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The Peculiar 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
CharDixon More than 1 year ago
So, I just did one of those things I will end up kicking myself for. I went to B&N and read a brand new book from an author I've never heard of before in what is hopefully a new series. I say hopefully because if this is just a standalone book then Mr. Bachman is one seriously mean author who like to toy with his readers heads. The Peculiar is the title. And it is a rather peculiar book - in the best way. The book takes place in Bath, England. But not the Bath of current time or even a particular historic Bath. Rather it is a Bath that exists in an England where the faerie world has collided with ours and now most faerie are subjugated citizens of the realm. There is an element of the oh so popular steampunk aesthetic in that this Britain is full of clockwork men and mechanical birds and such. The story centers around young Bartholomew. He is a changeling (part human part faerie) boy in the faerie slum of Bath. I love that phrase "faerie slum of Bath"... it conjures such a vivid picture in my mind. And this book is full of such word imagery. Bachman seems to be a genius at giving just enough description to set your imagination awhirl without becoming pedantic or sounding like a catalogue description. Really excellent skill for a writer. The co-hero of this book is a man named Arthur Jelliby. Not the most inspiring of names for a man who has never tried to aspire to anything. That he finds himself the unlikely hero and savior is perhaps more surprising to him than to the reader. By the end of the book he had changed from a rather boring stuffy bureaucrat into quite the dashing hero in my mind's eye. The story is original and intriguing. It draws on elements many of us think we are quite familiar with and twists them into a new reality that holds glimpses of our knowledge - but then expounds on it in ways I know I had never imagined. I am trying desperately not to give away too much because this is a story that deserves to be enjoyed as the author has laid it out. While it is sometimes frustrating as a reader to be denied knowledge within a story that you want, I can promise than in this case it is worth the wait. Bachman does a masterful job of leading us where he wishes without making it seem forced. Beautiful language. It is always delightful to find an author who has a firm knowledge of the English language and the confidence to play with it successfully. Now, as to why I am kicking myself - I both love to find new series and hate it. Love because , well, I've found an excellent new series and author. Hate because now I am in that reader's hell of wanting desperately to read the next book and having to wait for it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was scary and sort of creepy. If i read it at night i would probably get nightmares.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that the author has a nice sense of adventure and mystery. He also has a nice sense of when to cut the action and introduce just a bit of love and freindship. So, 4 stars.
achallender More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book! Not only was this book suspenseful but it was creepy as well! Its a fairytale meets murder mystery meets Brothers Grimm meets sweet family values. The cover is what initially sucked me but once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! This is a cliffhanger, folks, so beware! I am anxiously awaiting for the second book, which comes out this September I believe. This book is a little creepy and sadistic at times, so I would not recommend this to younger children, as it gave ME the creeps at night and I'm almost 30... Overall, this book is wonderful. I am so very excited to see what else Bachmann comes out with! I have definitely found a new favorite author!
BookWhales More than 1 year ago
When it comes to books about fey, I always look for a good world-building. The Peculiar did not dissapoint. Stefan made a world so colorful and vivid. I don’t usually read middle-grade books, but this book became an exception. I love how it will test your imagination. A story bursting with colors, action and mystery, I was addicted. The story took place in a world where faeries were trapped in our world and an imminent war between human and faeries is about to explode. The Changelings/half-lings were being condemned. Bartholomew and his sister, who themselves are changelings abide from this rule given by their mother,“Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.” Then Hettie disappeared, who can Bartie trust? Will he be able to find his sister? Pick up this book to find out. The world-building is incredible! It was well constructed and furnished. Last middle-grade book that I read that can muster a rivalry is The Percy Jackson series. Yep, this book blew me away. I love how Stefan made a world that is supposed to be a fairytale, darker and richer. I always commented books that can be turn into a comic because on how the author describes the scenes and characters wonderfully. Stefan made a world that is original, colorful yet dark at the same time. Steampunk, murder mystery and gothic fantasy gave this book extra edge. The character-building is remarkable. The fact that the story was written in different perspectives made the characters more connectable and believable. I felt Bartie’s every emotion from this book. He longs to belong and the way he sees things made him mature for his age. Bartie became my instant favorite among the cool bunch. Arthur Jelliby! The unlikely hero is my second favorite. Why? What a peculiar name! His name is really stuck in my head now haha. There is something about him that you won’t easily forget. Though, there were times when I find him boring at first but that trait had actually caught my curiosity too. There are more characters that made an impression on me. I shall leave them all to you. Just don’t forget to buy a copy. There was no romance. You know.. the boy-girl relationship? None. But you will feel the love between siblings, a story where you will do anything for your family. It was touching. Over all, this book is awe-inspiring! I was satisfied with the ending! Haha I have a feeling that The Peculiar will be a series- yay- I need another book from Stefan. I recommend this book to steampunk and fantasy lovers. I give this book , 4.5 peculiar whales
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is another book called the whatnot so if ur wondering if there is a second book there is so ya.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book it was well written and a good story i look forward to the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book I immedately got pulled into the story amazing read but not your average fairytale its a little dark but it is amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes I'm a Whovian..... ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good book with really good details like the lady in plum, Melucene, is a kind hearted faerie and is very strange. The other characters are really good ones too like Bartholemew. He is decribed as mostly human and only some faerie. Hetty, his sister, is also kind hearted and described as mostly faerie and only some human. Anyway it is a really good book and i reccomend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading this for school and it is AMAZING it can be a bit tricky to remember so Irecamend this book for kids 10 and up.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
Hard to describe--Hard to put down This is a surprisingly engaging story. Surprising because it's rather hard to describe but really works well. "Peculiars" are half human and half faery and neither side wants anything to do with them. Why are Peculiar children disappearing and later being found floating in the river? The inside book cover describes the book as "Part murder mystery, part Gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure." That just about sums it up. Just add that it's a fun story to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a good book. I found it very confusing, weird even. Not worth it. If you really want to read it go to the best place on earth, the librery!
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BusyReader More than 1 year ago
A solid read.  3 stars means I enjoyed this book and I did. I look forward to THE WHATNOT and many more books from this young author.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My son loves to read this type of book and usually can't put them down.  This book was a disappointment and the first book he asked to stop reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good storyline, I'm assuming there will be a 2nd book since the end left us hanging a little so I will look forward to seeing where this story goes. It's so hard to find fae fiction that is unique anymore but this was a breath of fresh air. Excellent!
Mystryrdr More than 1 year ago
Awesome!  Can't wait for the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is well paced and well written, you should really read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It was unique and fun to read. Definitely recommend this book!