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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber

Publisher: Leisure Books
Genre: fiction, fantasy
Paperback 324  pages
Book Source: the library
My Rating: 90/100

From the author's website:

What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…

My Thoughts:

This was such a fun and delightful book!  Percy comes to Athens Academy from the only place she has ever known: the convent.  She looks odd and people treat her as such, but Percy is a delightful young woman, who is interested in learning and maybe, having someday, the touch, warmth, and love of man.  But that is a fantasy that will never happen according to Percy.  At least until she comes to Athens Academy where hope springs eternal.  Pretty literally apparently per the story.

Hieber utilizes Greek mythology in her story, for both the main characters and the thrust of the story.  I have always liked mythology so I think that may be why I liked this books so much.  In addition, the writing is beautiful and lush.  Hieber describes the environs in such resplendent terms, from the Gothic office of Professor Rychman to the streets of Victorian London, all foggy, dreary and ethereal.  Percy's physical appearance and abilities only add to the otherworldly feel of the book.  The story and the environment were perfectly matched and put me right in the story.

Professor Rychman is quite a character and although he became a bit tedious at times, it went with the story.  Those elements were required by the character and myth that accompanied it.  Rycham is part of a group known as The Guard.  They are charged with protecting the public from the various haunting spirits who have also been known to harm people as well.  In addition to their Grand Work, the Guard has a Prophecy to fulfill, but they have only been given clues to what it is and means.  The Guard has six members including Rychman, and each one is different and quite unique.  They all have their own personalities which shine in the story.  I liked all of them as well, and several were amusing.

The Prophecy is fulfilled at the end and it was a different and interesting twist that I haven't read in a book lately.  Again, the Prophecy is rooted in mythology.  So now that my interest in Greek mythology has been renewed, if you know of a good book about it, please let me know.  Part of the ending of  this story is typical but it has to be, due to the mythology.  I just liked how that was worked in.  This is the first in the Strangely Beautiful Series by Hieber, and I look forward to reading the next in the series.  I  hope the other members of the Guard are explored further, because they would certainly make for a good story as well.

For more information please visit Hieber's website:

[P.S. This review has been in my draft folder forever!  And I don't know why?!]