Ahoy there me mateys! I received this historical fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
Title: the peculiarities
Author: David Liss
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Publication Date: TODAY!! (paperback/e-book)
I have never read anything by this author before. This be the story of Thomas Thresher, a layabout second son from a rich banking family in London. He has problems including finally being forced to work at the family business, an arranged marriage, and the fact that leaves are spouting out of his body. Of course weird Peculiarities like evil fog and women giving birth to rabbits are happening to other folk. But those people are poor. The rich believe that magic doesn’t really exist. The leaves on Thomas suggest otherwise. Does the bank have something to do with these Peculiarities? Thomas has to find out.
I really enjoyed the world set up by the author. It takes place in 1899 and deals with the idea that magic is popping up in the major cities in unusual ways. The idea of what these Peculiarities are and how they manifest that was the highlight of the book for me. I also enjoyed the changes the author made in terms of how he incorporates the alternate history.
The downside of this book was that I never really enjoyed the main character. Thomas was rather insufferable and has very little agency. Even though he improves in the book, his upper class viewpoints and self-centeredness did grate. The anti-Semitism in the book was revolting even while Thomas changes his mind about the Jewish love interest. I know why the anti-Semitism was there but I didn’t like it. There was also an attempted rape scene that was icky.
I don’t have regrets about reading this but it is by no means a favorite. Arrrr!
So lastly . . .
Thank you Tachyon!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
All of his life, Thomas Thresher has been free of obligation and responsibility, but that is over now. He is a twenty-three-year-old man whose best days are behind him. Thomas’s older brother Walter has trapped him in a tedious clerical job at the family bank in London, and Thomas is expected to wed a wealthy young woman in whom he has no interest.
But Thomas has more serious problems than those of a disaffected young man. There are irregularities at the bank he cannot explain. His childhood friend has mysteriously turned up dead. Worse, a verdant skin malady has infected him: leaves have begun sprouting on his skin. Thomas must conclude that it is due to the long-rumored Peculiarities. London’s famous grey fog has been concealing a rash of unnatural afflictions–and worse, the murderous Elegants.
As Thomas grows leafier, the conspiracies surrounding him become more apparent. He cannot determine whom to trust: his own family; his banking co-workers and superiors; the beautiful widow of his companion; the woman he is to marry. Or perhaps a lycanthropic medium; the members of a secret occult society…or even Aleister Crowley.
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