Stefan Bachmann’s THE PECULIAR and Laura Amy Schlitz’s SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS

Here is a richly realized alternate Victorian world of elegant upper-class homes and squalid faerie slums. Filled with healthy doses of suspense and action, this is a story young fantasy buffs are sure to enjoy. And while he is bound to be compared to Christopher Paolini, whose “Eragon” was also published while he was still in his teens, Bachmann has written an accomplished book that deserves to be considered on its own.

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Schlitz skillfully manages multiple narratives as the story makes its complex way forward, creating scenes of warmth and humor along with those of drama and horror. Filled with lush language and delightful sensory details like the savored warmth of a velvet cloak, this marvelous story will keep readers absorbed throughout. While the intricate storytelling, captivating characters and evocative setting owe a great deal to Dickens, the book also feels very much in the tradition of such grand 20th-century writers as Joan Aiken and Elizabeth Goudge. Filled with heart-pounding and heart-rending moments, this delicious, glorious novel is the work of a master of children’s literature.

For the rest of my reviews of Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar and Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms in today’s New York Times please go here.

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