By Maureen Doyle McQuerry
My Rating: 4 Stars
The Peculiars wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, but I was strangely surprised by how much I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Set in the late 1800’s, McQuerry presents an alternate reality to the settling of the west. McQuerry, quite successfully combines fantasy, steampunk, and historical fiction and throws in just enough YA romance for balance to make this single standing book a great read.
When Lena Matacascar turns 18, she receives a letter and a small inheritance that her father, who abandoned her at a young age, left her. The letter and inheritance allow her to set out on an adventure which she hopes will take her to her father. But the more important part of her adventure is to discover who she truly is and is that person worthy of being part of society. While, this book includes all the strange contraptions normally found in a steampunk novel, the history of what you would find in a historical fiction novel, the strange creatures of a fantasy novel and a bit of romance which is so popular in YA fiction right now, it is first and foremost a story about self-discovery, learning to let go of self-loathing and not allowing others to define who you are based on predisposed attitudes and assumptions. This is what I loved about this book. Lena is a true heroine. She grows and expands as a character over the course of the story. She learns to think for herself and not allow others to make decisions for her or to lead her down the wrong road. She isn’t perfect and she makes some huge mistakes over the course of the book, but by the end, she has discovered so much about herself and the world that I was left feeling confident that she would be successful in life. I also liked that it was a break from the ever popular love triangle of most YA and frankly that the romance was very much a side story in this book. I think this is a great read for young girls who are trying to find themselves in the world. There should be more characters like Lena Matacascar in books today. Be sure to check this book out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.