The Peculiars by Kieran Larwood

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Cover illustration by Karl James Mountford

When Sheba is bought by Mr Plumpscuttle, she’s excited at leaving her cage on the pier behind and exploring the wonders that London offer. She quickly learns though, that life won’t be all that different; she’ll still be gawked at by paying customers, because she’s a wolf-girl. In London, however, she’s not alone. The rest of the Peculiars consist of Sister Moon, Monkey Boy, Gigantus and Mama Rat.

The Peculiars aren’t just a bunch of curiosities though, they’re also adept at using their unique skills to solve mysteries that no one else is interested in. Mudlarks are disappearing from the banks of the Thames, and when Sheba discovers one of the snatched children is her friend, Till, she vows to do everything she can to find her and the other missing children, before whatever is taking them strikes again.

Penny Dreadful meets Steampunk in this fast-paced, chilling mystery, set in the slums of Victorian London.

Evocatively written, the stench rises from the page as the fog swirls down, creating a dark, gothic backdrop for the characters who each have their moments to shine. Sheba is as intelligent as she is vulnerable, Sister Moon is as quick witted as she is on her feet, and Monkey Boy is disgracefully, yet disarmingly childish and cheeky throughout. The villains are cruel and ruthless, with just a hint of Frankenstein about them.

Messages of family, friendship and being yourself are deftly woven throughout, with plenty of lighter moments to ease the tension, if only momentarily before the action packed climax.

Great for fans of Strange Star, The Whitby Witches and Cogheart.

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