cover image The Peculiar

The Peculiar

Stefan Bachmann. Greenwillow, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-219518-0

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.)