Review posted on Dark Faerie Tales.There is something about the cover of Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar that draws me in. This Middle Grade fantasy book has the promises of greatness, and I was very lucky to have received a copy for review. With all of the great praises of this debut, it was a surprise to hear that Bachmann wrote this at the age of 16. The Peculiar is filled with dark gothic elements, mixed with steampunk details and tied together in a fantasy-esque fairy tale.The Peculiar begins in Bath, where Bartholomew (Barty) and Hettie Kettle in an alternate Victorian version of the town. They live a solemn life, secluded from the rest of society. They are both hidden away from their mother, afraid to let their identities be known to the public. Barty and Hettie are Peculiars, changelings, half human and half fey. Both of the Kettle children long to belong and to be noticed, but alas it will never happen.Faeries live throughout the world, unintentionally trapped in our world and kept away from theirs. Paths will cross as Barty witnesses a kidnapping, one that will endanger not only his life, but Hettie’s as well. While Faeries are not accepted in this alternate world, neither are changelings. Now a target for incoming danger, Barty’s only hope is an unlikely Parliament member.Barty is a great character, filled with complexity and layers. As a peculiar, he has had his work cut out for him. His father left him, his mother fears discovery, and his sister, well she has branches for hair. Barty lives a hard life, but doesn’t seem to be phased by any of it. Barty longs to belong, like many young children do, and in the world that Bachmann has created, in the midst of The Peculiar’s version of prejudices, it’s not a surprise.The Peculiar has an amazing world, filled with imaginative details. In this alternate and unique world, Bachmann creates this very tangible and concrete setting for a not-so common story. Bachmann gives life to the characters, allowing for a very solid foundation to build on. The rich dialogue, the youthful humor, the grown up dark and creepy elements – they all add to the reasons why you should read The Peculiar. I must admit that the beginning of the book is a little slow, but Bachmann makes up for it in every other way.Bachmann is a fantastic writer, and for his age, he has a lot of talent. To come up with this extraordinary world filled with complex characters and a well-thought out and well-paced plot, is simply short of amazing. There is originality that seeps out of his typing (or writing) fingers and I cannot wait to read more from him. The Peculiar is a great fantasy, mixed with science fiction elements. And I must say, despite The Peculiar being categorized as a “middle grade” book, readers of all ages will enjoy this book.