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The Peculiars [Kindle Edition]

Maureen Doyle McQuerry
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $8.95

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Hardcover $12.61  
Paperback $8.89  
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Book Description

This dark and thrilling adventure, with an unforgettable heroine, will captivate fans of steampunk, fantasy, and romance. On her 18th birthday, Lena Mattacascar decides to search for her father, who disappeared into the northern wilderness of Scree when Lena was young. Scree is inhabited by Peculiars, people whose unusual characteristics make them unacceptable to modern society. Lena wonders if her father is the source of her own extraordinary characteristics and if she, too, is Peculiar. On the train she meets a young librarian, Jimson Quiggley, who is traveling to a town on the edge of Scree to work in the home and library of the inventor Mr. Beasley. The train is stopped by men being chased by the handsome young marshal Thomas Saltre. When Saltre learns who Lena's father is, he convinces her to spy on Mr. Beasley and the strange folk who disappear into his home, Zephyr House. A daring escape in an aerocopter leads Lena into the wilds of Scree to confront her deepest fears.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Maureen Doyle McQuerry is an award-winning poet and author and a teacher specializing in YA literature and writing. She was the 2000 McAuliffe Fellow for Washington state. Her poems regularly appear in the Southern Review, Atlanta Review, and others. She lives in Richland, Washington. Visit her online at

Product Details

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Peculiar Gifts April 9, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Thank you, Maureen Doyle McQuerry, for the three gifts you have given a reader of The Peculiars: an interesting story well told; new, fun words to look up or words used in ways I'm not used to using them; and characters for whom I developed such affection that it made me a little wistful to reach the end of the story.

First, I was drawn into Lena's adventure right off and was eager to return to see it through whenever I would have to set aside the book. The storyline skirted artfully through what is normal and what is not; through surprises and disappointments; and through failings of the characters and their redemption. With two of McQuerry's principal characters at the threshold of adulthood, the conflicts and challenges were universal (that is, as universal as they can be in a steam punk fantasy world) and appropriate for young adult readers.

Second, as for the words, the first one that made me stop and sound it out while enjoying it was - goblinishness. Meeting it was like taking a bite of a scrumptious dessert in many layers - you know what it is, you know you like it, but it takes a while to taste and get its feel in your mouth. And then there were more words that helped stitch the story to its setting, words like bandylegged, wimple, spumy, riprap, and mullioned. How could I not know these words? How is it they aren't already friends? Even better than meeting unfamiliar words was discovering McQuerry's turns of phrase that suited her scenes so well: "contentment was not a familiar companion," and "Margaret's words were slippery," and "a reverberation of fear". Lovely, just lovely.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtly Brilliant June 11, 2012
The Peculiars is set in an alternate 19th century, where goblins and other uncanny beings are forced out of regular society and into the wilderness if they are not able to hide their peculiarity.

It is the story of Lena as she travels to uncover the secret of her mysterious heritage. Her destination is Scree, where criminals are banished and, it is rumoured, `Peculiars' still survive.

The Peculiars is a really enjoyable fantasy with a steampunk twist. I appreciated the originality of this story. Some effort at originality is especially important to me after reading so many others that try to hitch their wagon to other authors' success.

Presenting this story in the third person was a great choice on the author's part. The language is modern but you still get a real sense of the time-period.

The word that springs to mind when I think of The Peculiars is charming. Its fun, its captivating, and there is a wealth of emotion imbued in Lena's internal struggle.

What I Loved:
Lena is such a compelling character. It is rare to find a female protagonist who is genuinely the most interesting and relatable character in the book. Even rarer to find a heroine with a noticeable physical disorder, rather than token or imagined flaws. Her physical condition and the inevitable insecurities that it creates are explored well.

The romance is sweet and slow-building - but it takes an appropriate backseat to the individual characters' personal growth.

What Was Lacking:
Readers expecting this to be strong on steampunk themes may be disappointed - the sci-fi themes in this novel were subtler than others of the genre.

"Maybe it was only goblin women who were restless and wanted to see the world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love the creativity and fun of this book! April 20, 2012
Genre: Steampunk/Fantasy/Romance
Publisher Type: Non-Indie
Rating: * * * * *

Cover Art:
Okay, so usually I give you my thoughts on the actual story first, but I could NOT wait to talk about how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cover!!! It is sooooo ...just WOW. So now I'm gushing and am not sounding very intelligent, but there you have it. Look at it! Isn't it awesome!?! I requested the book on Netgalley completely based on the cover. Assuming the blurb was the same as the above from Goodreads, I can't say I'm overly impressed with the blurb, but the cover totally did it for me.

My Review:
I am completely jump-up-and-down, twirl-around, and squeal-with-joy over this book! I utterly and totally loved it! This is my very first dip into steampunk and found it fabulous. Per some reviews I've read, it's not deeply steampunk, but that works in its favor for me. With true historical fiction, I'm not a fan of being bogged down with weighty descriptions or too many factual references and have no doubt I'd feel that way about steampunk. I did love the hints of true history and all the fantastical inventions and the old-timey feel of the novel.

Simply put, this is a fantastic story. It has whimsical and fun elements (I heart Ms. Mumbles, the cat) and darker elements of fear turned oppression, parental abandonment and the emotional abuse of being told you are, deep down, a monster. The twists and turns of this grand adventure was thrilling!

Lena is a great character. Her naivete and general lack of worldliness is obvious, appropriate for the time period and endearing. She's also struggling with her identity and her place in society. I really connected with her. I felt for her and I liked her.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Peculiars is a wonderful whimsical tale about a girl with pianist...
The Peculiars is a wonderful whimsical tale about a girl with pianist hands, or goblin hands, or just a birth defect that gave her an extra knuckle. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Karaline
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite hit, great main character
Steampunk is either hit or miss with me, and this one was definitely hit. Lena is a great character with an interesting personality. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Majanka
4.0 out of 5 stars Full Steam Ahead
A nice steampunk novel with adventure, crazy inventions and a spice of romance. Nice deep subject in the persecution of the Peculiars. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Deborah Fredericks
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Adventure
From the book art to the content, the PECULIARS is a riveting read from cover to cover. Featuring a well balanced cast, from the wonderful heroine to the side characters and a... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Hayden B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and compelling
I don't understand why so many people seem to dislike this book. I thought it might be too predictable, but I'm so glad I gave it a chance. I absolutely loved it. Read more
Published 12 months ago by K. Lowrance
4.0 out of 5 stars THE PECULIARS
THE PECULIARS is a fascinating adventure story. Lena Mattacascar travels to curious lands with determination to find the father who left her when she was a child, and to uncover... Read more
Published 13 months ago by mfu_11
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it!
Keeps you guessing and you what to know where it all leads to. Will there be other books to look forward to?
Published 14 months ago by Alexia
2.0 out of 5 stars Would I recommend this book? Probably not, but if you like steampunk...
Plot: 3/10
Characters: 3/10
Setting: 6/10
Pacing: 2/10
Style: 5/10
Total 19+50=69 (2 Stars)

Please don't throw stones at me, but this is my... Read more
Published on April 14, 2013 by Melissa @ Harley Bear Book Blog
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Favorite
Warning: This review contains girlish squeals, rambling and quite a few capitals. It probably won't make much sense.

Published on January 4, 2013 by Emily (Book Jems)
5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious and Captivating
Lena is a sympathetic character who has felt out of place her entire life because of a physical deformity. Read more
Published on January 2, 2013 by SciFiChick
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More About the Author

Maureen decided she wanted to be a writer when she was six. If that failed she wanted to be a detective. Poetry was her doorway into fiction writing.

Fiction includes: The Peculiars (Abrams/Amulet 2012) A YASLA and Bank Street best book, and the Time Out of Time duet: Beyond the Door, May (Abrams 2014) and The Stone of Destiny.

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