The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
The Peculiars is a story that is mostly historical fiction, with a bit of steampunk, fantasy and sci-fi mixed in for good measure. It is the story of Lena, who has a birth defect. Her hands and feet are much longer than normal and because of this her grandmother says she is a goblin. Lena isn't sure, but after hearing her grandmother tell her this throughout her entire life, Lena wonders herself if it's true. Goblins are one of the 'peculiar' races, which are seen as inferior and have no rights. Lena's father, also a goblin according to her grandmother, deserted his family when she was five years old. Lena is afraid that the bad traits goblins have will cause her problems, and she sees some of these traits in herself. These traits and a hidden letter from her father, encourages Lena, on her 18th birthday to look for her missing father. Her mother assures her that he wasn't a goblin, but that he was just not made to be a family man. She leaves the comfort of her city and travels by train to a border-town called Knob Knoster.
After making a friend and having a bit of an adventure on the train to Knob Knoster, Lena arrives mostly safe and sound. Once she gets to town things really get interesting. She is hired to spy on a doctor who may or may not be breaking the law, and ends up learning a lot more than she bargained. I really liked Lena because she is a strong character who doesn’t want to conform in the way that society expects her to conform. Lena is adventurous, smart, and naive. She makes mistakes and learns from them, and she cares about her friends. Most of the 'goblin' traits are the traits of a smart, motivated young woman who wants more from her life than sitting in a parlor sewing and waiting suitors to come visit her. Most of the main characters were pretty well developed, but there were a few things that I would have liked to have cleared up; perhaps that will happen in a sequel. Although parts of the plot were predictable, there were quite a few things I didn't see coming. I will be purchasing this one for my library when it comes out. Ms. McQuerry did a very good job of describing what it feels like to be different and to want to hide the parts of our bodies that we don't see as 'beautiful'.
Thank You to Netgalley.com and Abrams for letting me read this one!