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The Peculiar Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 18, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Peculiar Series

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Editorial Reviews

From 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, WIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

First-time novelist Bachmann crafts an elaborate alternate steampunk Britain, set after the Smiling War, when a door to the Old Country was opened and faeries of all types streamed into Bath. Bartholomew and his younger sister, Hettie, are changeling children, outcasts even amongst faeries. But someone is extremely interested in changelings, kidnapping and murdering nine of them in attempts to open a new door into the Old Country. When Hettie is taken, Bartholomew must try to save his sister from becoming the gateway that will destroy the world. Imaginative, highly descriptive writing includes faerie lore and mystery, thrilling adventure and friendship, and bursts of the fantastic and whimsical, all of which is tempered with a darkness that permeates the story. Alternating points of view from Bartholomew and Mr. Jelliby, a bumbling yet good-hearted member of the Privy Council who is helping him, keeps the story moving quickly, and the faerie Lord Lickerish is an appropriately creepy villain. Grades 4-7. --Charli Osborne
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Peculiar (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062195182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062195180
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Stefan Bachmann was born in Colorado and now lives in Switzerland, where he studies modern music at the Zürich University of Arts. He is the author of several novels, including THE PECULIAR, his first book, which was published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins when he was nineteen years old.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are so many new fantasy books out in the market rehashing so many of the same themes.This one seems different to me .I was so so surprised on how much I enjoyed this book. I love to read children's literature and am drawn to Victorian settings. The Peculiar gives you lots of characters to root for. I love that there are twists and turns and that Characters start out one way and end up going in a different direction than you thought. As an adult I love the homage to Dickens and it has just the right blend of steam punk which does not distract from the story but enhances it. It is one of those great books where you feel you need to stop reading to do some other work and then you find you go back and pick it up to read just a bit more. I hope there is more to come from this author.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of those books for "kids" that adults can enjoy every bit as much, if not more. Complex, engaging world, and amazing writing. I expect great things in the future from this author.

Oh, and my 14-year-old daughter also approves. She can't wait for the next book in the series. Neither can I.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up The Peculiar when I saw that Rick Riordan and Christopher Paolini had written blurbs for it. Though I wouldn't pronounce it as one of my favorites, the story was enjoyable and unexpected.

I'm not one to read books about fae, but I really enjoyed this one! The fact that the fairies are portrayed as human-like is probably why it appealed to me. I'm curious to learn more about their world and the magic they possess though.

Though I didn't strongly connect with either of them, Bartholomew and Mr. Jelliby were both interesting characters. As they attempted to attain their goals, they experienced a shift in personality, which definitely interested me.

All in all, The Peculiar was an enjoyable, imaginative read geared towards a younger audience. It's a simple story, but it's satisfying. It's a quick, fun and well-crafted book - Stefan Bachmann definitely has a way with words.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been looking forward to reading Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar for awhile now, drawn to the intriguing steampunk and fantasy midde-grade premise, and I'm happy to report that it not only lived up to my expectations, but I really loved it as well!

Bartholomew Kettle and his little sister are changelings, half human and half fae children, and are knows as Peculiars. The siblings live with their mother in the faery slums of Bath and do everything they can to NOT be noticed. But when a mysterious lady in plum shows up on their street and takes the changeling boy across the street, Bartholomew gets noticed, and worse, he gets marked. When the lady in plum and a Raggedy Man take Bartholomew's sister he must risk everything to save her. With the help of a Arthur Jelliby, Bartholomew goes up against the lady in plum and a sinister faery to save his sister and maybe the whole world.

Stefan Bachmann has crafted a fantastically enchanting, deliciously and whimsically dark, and impressive debut. The Peculiar offers readers a spellbindingly original story with a thrilling mix of steampunk, mystery and gothic fantasy elements, and two endearing heroes.

The story is fast and excitedly paced and will easily hold the attention of even young readers. Bachmann is a superb writer and storyteller, with a refreshing, smart and witty voice, and he weaves a lyrical and magical tale. The world-building is stellar with a grand and vivid Victorian steampunk setting. The world Bachmann has laid out is richly layered and stunning. Even the dirty, stark faery slums hold a certain enchanting quality.

What drew me to this book initially was the fact that it was touted has a middle-grade steampunk, which I've never read before.
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Format: Hardcover
I like the cover of The Peculiar very much--it is a most intriguing clockwork bird, and the feathers add a nicely mysterious touch. What the cover does not convey is that this is a book about a 19th-century England in which the gates to the land of faery opened, and a vicious and bloody war resulted--the Smiling War, so called because of all the grinning skulls that covered the fields. But fairy magic proved to be no match for the British military, and with the gate now closed again, the faeries had no choice but to remain in the human world...constrained both by laws and by the inimical effects of iron and church bells.

Yet some humans and some faeries found each other not unobjectionable....and Changeling resulted--Peculiar children despised by both races. Bartholomew and his little sister, Hettie, are two such children, confined by their mother for their own protection to the inside of a rundown home in a marginal area of war-torn Bath, now a predominantly faery town. Bartholomew can pass as human, from a distance; Hettie, with branches growing from her head instead of hair, is much too Peculiar...

But danger finds the two of them, nonetheless. Nine changelings have been horribly murdered...and all unwillingly, and rather unwittingly, Arthur Jelliby, a gentleman of means and a junior member of Parliament, finds himself embroiled by conscience and coincidence in keeping the tenth changeling alive. And Barthlomew might be that child. Or perhaps Hettie...little branch-haired Hettie, with her raggedy handkerchief doll, who can never play with other children...

Oh gosh, how to describe this murder mystery/alternate history/faery steampunk/brave brother/unwilling hero/utterly gripping story?
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