cover image The Peculiars

The Peculiars

Maureen Doyle McQuerry. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0178-8

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)