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The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker Paperback – August 20, 2009
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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Fast forward to 1888 and the children are now grown and a force to be reckoned with. Warned that they will be tricked and have to second guess situations that come in to play, they see ghosts: both good spirits and bad. And there is something bad out there....really bad....evil with a capitol E who has helpers.
And so the story continues with clues of a romantic adventure and an introduction to a mystery with a continuing mythical undertone. Ms. Hilber wants to share secrets with you, the reader. Like mysterious passages and hidden compartments, this narrative is finely crafted and multilayered. If you are like me you'll have to go back several times while reading their story to verify a clue about what happens in the future. The big question is, "When will Prophecy come?".
A wealth of folktales including murders (who IS Jack the Ripper?) provide a strong connection between The Guard and Miss Percy Parker. An orphan, she was raised by nuns. Hints of albinism, Percy is unusual looking. She has learned to avoid humans to keep from being taunted. Now 18 years old she is sent to Athens Academy to continue her education. Events unfold at a leisurely pace at this old English estate-turned-school where Percy meets Professor Alexi Rychman, the leader of The Guard.
This is a fantasy that some may find slow-reading but don't be daunted. Remember, it is Victorian times. Dark and gloomy at moments the novel has some cloak-and-dagger characters, veiled messages and morals to fight for. THE DARKLY LUMINOUS FIGHT FOR PERSEPHONE PARKER is the second book in this series. THE PERILOUS PROPHECY OF GUARD AND GODDESS is a prequel but, I understand from others, that it is best to start with this first book.
Six kids are given powers and a task, to guard humanity against the ghosts and darkness that haunt it...they are known as The Guard. Their leader is Alexi and he is given power over spiritual blue fire. There is a prophecy that in their hour of need the Guards will gain a seventh member; she will be lost and need protection but will also save humanity.
Many years have passed since the Guard have been given their powers. Miss Percy Parker is excited to arrive at Athens Academy. She was an orphan raised at a nunnery but deeply desired more schooling and a profession. Percy is looking forward to higher education and is determined to be the perfect pupil. Of course all that is put in jeopardy when she meets Professor Alexi; there is something about him Percy finds very distracting and the visions she occasionally has hit her all the more frequently in his presence.
While Percy tries to unravel the secrets of her history and of the effect Alexi has on her; the Guard is desperate to find their seventh as more and more violent hauntings plague London.
I really loved this book, it is beautifully written and blends together a lot of interesting elements of fantasy, history, and mythology. The book is set in Victorian London during the Jack the Ripper crisis. In this alternate London ghosts are real and it is the Guards’ duty to protect humanity from them and make sure the public is fairly ignorant about it all. That is pretty much the world, there isn’t a ton of world building outside of that.
Aside from the historical setting there is also some mythology in here; you should be able to guess how greek mythology ties in with the story given Persephone’s name. This mythology was blended into the historical setting in a creative and well done way.
What really drives the story are the characters. I loved the Guard and how each Guard member represents an aspect of the Goddess who gave them their powers. The lead guard, Alexi, is of course the most interesting and compelling of them all. He has that whole dark, brooding, mysterious and noble persona going on..which I will admit I am a sucker for. He also has a darkly witty sense of humor which I loved.
I also enjoyed Percy as a character; in the beginning of the book she’s comes off as a bit naive and ignorant but she definitely grew more backbone as the story continued. I ended up enjoying watching her grow as she grew more confident and daring. The chemistry between her and Alexi is amazingly well done and very engaging. There are some beautifully written scenes between the two that will take your breath away.
The writing is very lush, descriptive, and flows nicely. It was a book that was enjoyable and easy to read. It’s a good balance of plot, mystery, action, paranormal, and romance. I will admit this is a pretty romance heavy story; there are a few times where the story takes a pause so that Alexi and Percy can have a romantic scene together. However, I never felt like the romance overrode the interesting storyline. The story is fairly predictable but I still really enjoyed the path we took to get to that ending.
Overall this was a beautifully written story that did an excellent job of blending history, mythology, and supernatural elements. The story has a very gothic/Victorian feel to it and I enjoyed it a lot. The characters are really what drive the story and I loved them all. There is quite a bit of romance in here that was incredibly well done; it never took over the story but was definitely a driver. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fantasy with some supernatural elements and romance.
It's a historical paranormal romance, I guess you could say. Sort of like The Parsol Protectorate series, but not as "steampunk-ish", meaning not a lot of that advance technology, but the story was still wonderfully told.
There is Greek mythology intertwined with the story but not like I was expecting. It was surprising and yet hard to explain without giving away spoilers, so I won't.
There is definitely some mystery and intrigue in here as well. Spies and secret societies in some respects! Totally loved it, was very thrilling. The pacing was set at a good pace. Not overly fast or slow. It didn't drag, I don't recall ever coming across a dull moment. I only wanted to know more and more!
I'm already diving into the second one as I write this and have the third one to review early as well so I'm pretty excited and glad that I waited to read these since I can read all 3 back to back! A very thrilling series so far with also a kind of modern day fairy tale element mixed in as well, despite it being 1888!
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