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The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker Mass Market Paperback – August 20, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Strangely Beautiful Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Six young men and women are called to protect the living world from the dead in Hieber's Gothic romance debut. Mysterious powers give Alexi and his peers the mission of keeping the restless dead in line and seeking a prophesied seventh guardian. Miss Percy Parker, an albino orphan with a talent for languages, fills none of their expectations, but Alexi is drawn to her all the same. Hieber draws Victorian London as beautiful and grim, with depictions of Jack the Ripper as a nightmarish many-headed hound alongside charming descriptions of the Athens Academy, Percy's boarding school, and Greek mythology that smartly draws together various elements of the story. The supporting characters are nuanced and appealing but given short shrift by the narrow focus on Percy and Alexi, though future sequels may give them more room to play. Hieber's debut shows great potential, and readers will want to revisit her intriguing world.
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"A strangely beautiful tale indeed! An ethereal, lyrical story that combines myth, spiritualism and the gothic in lush prose and sweeping passion. The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker will keep readers guessing and greedy for more as they desperately turn the pages. This Dark vs. Light battle in Victorian London will send a shiver down your spine one minute and put a smile on your face the next. I can't wait to read what Hieber has in store for future books!"  —USA Today Bestselling Author Kathryn Smith


--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Leisure Books (August 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843962968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843962963
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,444,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Pamela VINE VOICE on August 17, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Strangely Beautiful Tale... is certainly strangely beautiful, and I had to force myself to put the book down so I could sleep. Set in an alternate Victorian England, where spirits roam the streets and six chosen people safeguard the mortal world from dangerous ghosts, this book is richly imagined and constructed, with fascinating characters and an engrossing storyline.

I think my favorite thing about this book is the incredible romantic tension that develops between meek Percy and arrogant Alexi. Have any of you seen North and South (the BBC production of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, not that Civil War miniseries from the 80s)? You know how the tension between Margaret and Mr. Thornton builds and builds and builds with no release in sight, and when there finally is a release, you're practically panting even if it's just a kiss? Well, I spent every page of this book from the moment Percy met Alexi in that state. It's really a fantastic take on the destined-to-be-together storyline; I was surprised that I liked it so much because I usually don't care for that type of romance. It just worked really well in this context.

Percy is an unusual heroine for me to like, because she is very meek and uncertain. I lean toward the tough chicks, and while Percy does have incredible inner strength, she is very timid on the outside. There were a few times when I wanted to shout at her to stand up for herself, but she does come through when it really matters (and I cheered). Alexi, on the other hand, pushes all of my brooding hero buttons. I have to admit that I pictured the aforementioned Richard Armitage as Alexi; a Twitter conversation with the author revealed that she imagined Alexi as Alan Rickman when she started writing the novel.
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I'm not exactly sure what star rating to give to this book; three stars seems at once too generous and not generous enough. Perhaps it would help to simplify and break my review down into what I like and what I don't like about the book.

What I Like: The gothic spin on a traditional Victorian London setting. The dark, gloomy and terrifying atmosphere of classic gothic storytelling fits perfectly with this book, whose story takes place in the year 1888, the year of Jack the Ripper. I also liked the interpretation of the ancient tale of Persephone and her abduction by Hades, which forms the backbone of the book's storyline.

What I Don't Like: The author's repeated use of 'regal' and 'noble' to describe the appearance of Professor Alexi Rychman. 'Regal brow', 'noble face', 'regal this', 'noble that', ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Enough already, we get it, he's a handsome dude! I know Ms. Hieber is emulating the traditional gothic guidelines in describing her hero, but one or two 'nobles' or 'regals', combined with the futher descriptions of the character swooping, stalking, pacing and prowling, is quite enough for us to understand he is the hero, in all his brooding, mysterious, tormented, waiting-to-be-saved-by-his-one-true-love glory. Ease up on the descriptors and move on! I also quite dislike the book's subject, Miss Percy Parker herself. She has been raised in a convent, where modesty and self-effacement is all that, but her mewling, whining, whimpering, cowering, cringing, apologetic, servile attitude is so far beyond modesty, it creeps into the sado-masochistic realm ("please, hurt me, for I deserve no better"). Yeesh! Annoyance is not a strong enough word to describe the feeling her behavior engenders in me.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's has been awhile since I've read a gothic fantasy and I don't remember being this entertained reading a book in this genre as much as I was reading Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. I enjoyed how Ms. Hieber prose could make me feel the anticipation of that first touch and the thrill of that first kiss. I was transported to a Victorian London, during the terrible reign of Jack the Ripper. I could hear the clip-clop of the horse hooves echoing down the street, see the ghosts along the streets and feel the eeriness that always seem to accompany the evenings in London. Since I've read this book, I've even caught myself thinking in Victorian speak, it had that much of an impact on me.

It was truly a pleasure reading Ms. Hieber's tender love story with her version of Greek mythology mixed with the paranormal. The plot was well rounded and the ending gives you a nice closure but I have a few questions lingering that I hope will be answered in the next book. Your not going to find anything too terribly dark or forbidding in this book, though the evil ones were evil enough to fulfill their part in the setting of this book. It was a wonderful journey reading this book and I'm looking forward to next book in this series. Yes, I would definitely recommend this book.

If your still not sure about reading this book, I suggest that you head over to Leanna Renee Hieber's website and read the prologue and excerpts: [...]. I was hooked from reading just the prologue and I'm betting you will be too.
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