Skip to main content

Splendors and Glooms

Splendors and Glooms was one of those books I read because I felt like I had to. It was written by Newberry Award winning author Laura Amy Schlitz and I like her stuff. I do not like Victorian Fantasy though, and those words were being thrown about enough in conjunction with this book to make me groan. I think it would be more accurate to call this a fantasy that has a Victorian setting. When I think Victorian Fantasy I think Alic in Wonderland or Peter Pan, and this has more of a Diana Wynne Jones feel to the story. In fact, if you have read Jones's The Magicians of Caprona you might recall (how could you not?) that there were some super creepy scenes involving puppets. This book works on the same sort of concept. And is for sure certain creepy. Wonderfully creepy.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants.
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.
As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late.

The story here is a complex one with a large and varied cast of characters. The action centers around the disappearance of Clara Wintermute following her birthday party and moves from London town house to London slum to large country estate. Suspicion over Clara's disappearance is focused on the puppet master Grisini but then he disappears too. As do his two young wards. Clara's parents are distraught as she is their only surviving child. 

All of this action centers on the three children. Impossibly good  Lizze Rose only wants to ensure that there is shelter and food for her and Parsefall while also always doing what is right. Parsefall is far more interested in survival by means fair or foul. He is not evil, just not above breaking the law to ensure he eats. Then there is Clara, suffering from a massive guilt complex and repressed emotions. Clara and Parsefall are also brave and strong minded. I would have preferred the story focused more on the two of them and less on everyone else. (Particularly Lizzie Rose who I frequently wanted to shake and tell to shut up.)  Cassandra, the witch who desires to use the children for her own means, was also fascinating. I really liked what Schlitz did with her character. Grisini is a perfect villain for the gothic horror of the plot. Smarmy to the core, violent in a fantastical way, he is scary enough to give a young reader the shivers without subjecting them to hideous nightmares. And he meets such a satisfying end.

There were places where the story dragged a bit. Mostly when focusing on Clara's parents and Mrs. Pinchbeck. These scenes were short and few though.

This is an excellent selection for readers who enjoy the ghoulish, but shy away from the outright horrific. 

I read a copy available via NetGalley. Splendors and Glooms will be released August 28.

Comments

Happy walker said…
walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =)

Regards,
http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the

Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein

YA Book GIVEAWAY!!!

On Tuesday I posted my Top Ten Books Read so Far in 2013 and promised to highlight more of this year's favorites and offer them in giveaways. This is the YA giveaway. This is open to anyone who lives where Book Depository ships for free . Book Choices: TO ENTER: Leave a comment below saying which book looks most interesting to you and leave a way I can reach you if you are the winner. (email address or twitter handle-If you are using Twitter it would be helpful if you followed me, @brandymuses , in case I need to DM you.) Entries after Monday, July 1 8:00 PM EST are invalid. The winner will be drawn as close to 8 as possible.  Yes, I still do my giveaways the old fashioned way.