The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I stumbled across this book!  I was in the mood to go searching for some new Victorian historical fiction, and came across it.  I was aware that there was a paranormal element to it, which was ok with me.  When I started reading, I was a little surprised by just how prominent the paranormal/fantasy aspect was – and with a stack of library books due back shortly, I briefly considered putting it down in favor of something else.  Boy, am I glad I stuck with it instead.

Percy Parker is a young girl in Victorian London, and very unique.  Brought up in a convent, shy and timid Percy is an albino with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts.  Add in her extraordinary language abilities and the visions that come to her a night, and Percy knows she is anything but normal.

When she enrolls at Athens Academy in London, she meets the brooding and mysterious Professor Rychman.  Although she finds him intimidating, she is very much drawn to him – but he has  a secret of his own.  Since childhood, Alexi Rychman and five others have made up The Guard, a group of six who protect London from the spirits that inhabit it.  With a Prophecy that they will soon find a seventh, and Alexi’s belief that she will also be the woman he is meant to love, tensions in The Guard are high.  Percy is a great new character, and I found her very easy to relate to – maybe having always been a bit shy myself helped with that.

I loved Hieber’s style, and while cross-genre novels like this may not work for everybody, this one combined all of my favorites and it absolutely worked for me!  Victorian historical fiction with a Gothic edge, fantasy, and a romance with great characters (who also have great chemistry!) made such a great combination.  The first half was a little on the slow side, but once I hit around page 150, I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down!  I’m very much looking forward to the sequel due out in May, and I’ll be on the lookout for more from Hieber in the future.

Love Marriage by V.V. Ganeshananthan

9781400066698Love Marriage was certainly a solid first novel. Ganeshananthan explores not only the life of a young Sri Lankan woman living in America, but also the lives of several generations of her family and the history of her country.

One thing I enjoyed about this novel was the structure. Ganeshananthan focuses each section on a certain character and their ancestors, so that the reader discovers much more about them. All of this background (which is detailed, but not overwhelming) builds up to great character development. Her attention to detail and ability to create such a diverse cast of characters is impressive. Each section is like a vignette, and to see how they all tie together to become part of who the narrator is is fantastic.

This novel also taught me a great deal about Sri Lanka and the customs of its people. I knew very little about the country before picking it up, and I enjoyed learning so much. The descriptions of marriage and funeral rituals were especially well-written and interesting.

I did feel a bit let down by the ending of the novel. I anticipated something much more climactic. I was also a little thrown off by a section close to the end where the narrator (Yalini) tells the reader about her body image, etc…I felt like it came too late in the novel. Her character was already so well developed, and there was very little sense that she was so obsessive about some of things she mentions in this section – it was like a curveball that forced me to reevaluate what I knew of her as a character. If this section was moved up to an earlier point in the novel it would make much more sense structurally and in terms of character development.

Overall, a very intriguing and informative read. I would definitely recommend it.

*Review of ARC