Monday, August 31, 2009

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

On a grey London day in 1867, six unrelated children are inexplicably drawn to one central spot. They do not know each other and come from different backgrounds and social levels. But they have one thing in common. Each has been infiltrated with a kind of spirit. They are still themselves but now possess a higher level of awareness and each will discover that they have a new and interesting power. On that first night, they behold a goddess-like figure who gives them instructions and warns them to watch for a seventh member who will appear to complete their circle of The Guard.

Twenty years later, the children have grown up and fulfilled their roles as guardians of the portal between the worlds. Each and every day, the six of them fight evil and tame restless ghosts that only they can see. Rebecca, gifted with Intuition, is the headmistress of Athens Academy. Alexi Rychman, their leader and most Powerful among them, is the head Professor. Michael, the Heart of the group, is a Priest. Jane is the Healer and the most solitary member. Josephine's gift shines through her paintings, she is the Artist. And Elijah is the Memory, able to wipe all knowledge of any incident from someones mind with a wave of his hand.

The years have been hard on all of them, waiting for their prophetic seventh, but especially on Alexi. On that long ago day, when he laid eyes on the Goddess, he was paralyzed with emotion. He loved her from that moment and has looked for her since, denying himself any relationships outside of the guard. He feels that when the seventh DOES arrive, she will be for him. She will not just complete The Guard, but will complete him as well, and dispel the awful loneliness that he has lived with for so long.

Percy Parker, a new student, arrives at Athens Academy from a convent where she has been hidden away for her first eighteen years. She is very bright and eager to learn but is hampered by her appearance. She has snow white hair and skin, with ice blue eyes. She considers herself a freak, an impression enhanced by the stares she receives from the other students. The fact that she can see and hear ghosts, is able to talk to them like she would to any human, must remain her closest kept secret. People would think her mad if they knew.

Academically, Percy is quite brilliant, except in one subject. Mathematics is completely alien to her and she is dismayed to learn that it must be part of her curriculum. The class is taught by Professor Rychman and Percy feels enchanted by him immediately. Her progress is so poor that he requires her to come to his office for private lessons on a daily basis. At first, she is too distracted by him to learn anything. But for Alexi, something about this girl strikes a chord within him. Bit by bit, he comes to believe that she is the seventh that they have been seeking, though she herself knows nothing about it.

During the time Alexi and Percy are getting to know each other, the ghostly horrors in the city of London are growing at an explosive pace. The Ripper murders are at their height, and all of The Guard are aware that an unnatural force is at work. They have all been devoting their energies to defeating it. When a beautiful dark haired woman stumbles into their midst, everyone in The Guard believes her to be the prophesied seventh.

Everyone, that is, but Alexi.

Their disagreement causes a rift in The Guard that could not have come at a worse time. The fabric between the worlds is being torn apart, The Guard is all that is holding chaos back. Their strength lies in their unity, can they achieve it before it is too late?

This story weaves together the threads and echos of many beloved aspects of English Literature. It is steeped in Shakespeare and Greek Mythology, there are flashes of Poe, Dickens, Stevenson, shades of Gothic ghost stories and Victorian romance. Alexi himself reminded me of Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre, dark and brooding. Very well done, indeed, and filled with eloquent writing, too.

This was a very enjoyable novel for me. It is labeled "historical fantasy" and if you read my blog regularly you will know that is one of my favorite genres! I thought all of the characters were interesting, I loved the setting and the premise is wonderfully eerie. Though I did find myself a bit annoyed with Percy's timidity at times. I had to keep reminding myself that the poor girl was raised in a convent! The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is the first in a planned series. I'm hoping that the rest of members of The Guard will get their tales told in the sequels, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Like ghost stories? Paranormal? Historical Fiction? Fantasy? English Literature? Then you will enjoy The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, I certainly did!

For more about the Leanna Renee Hieber and her Strangely Beautiful books, please visit her website. Be sure to enter my giveaway for a signed copy...and while you are there read Leanna's fabulous guest post!

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is published by Leisure Books, ISBN 978-0-8439-6296-3

11 comments:

Andrea said...

That sounds like a great book. I like the idea of the children growing up and using their powers. Adding to my list right now.

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a book both my son and I would like. Great review!

Leanna Renee Hieber said...

Thank you Carey for this GORGEOUS post, I'm linking to it on my website right now, I've already mentioned it on my blog and the Percy Parker facebook page.

Thank you so much for being a part of the Haunted London Blog Tour! It's been SUCH fun!

I'm so glad you're now a part of the Strangely Beautiful journey!

Andrea,
Thank you!

Bermudaonion,
I'm grateful for your interest! Do be aware, I'm not sure how old your son is, but I'd rate it a PG-13 book due to some violet situations (with Jack the Ripper and other supernatural foe) and mild sexual content in the romance element of the story. I just want to be extra careful, I respect children, parents and boundaries very much, I'd just hate to ruffle any feathers and I figure I'd better be safe than to have someone uncomfortable!

Blessings!

The Tome Traveller said...

Thanks Leanna! It was a pleasure hosting the Haunted tour and I loved your book!

Kathy's son is safe, he's in college. :)

Carey

Zibilee said...

This sounds like a really great book, and one that I would probably love. I've never come across anything labeled historical fantasy before. I loved your review and just put this book on my wish list. Thanks for the heads up on this one!

HODGEPODGESPV said...

this book sounds as much fun as its author.

J.T. Oldfield said...

So, then, is it YA?

Trisha said...

This sounds wonderful. I've never heard of this book before but I'm adding it to my wishlist right now!

The Tome Traveller said...

No, J.T., it is not classified as YA. As Leanna says, it has a little violence and some mild sexual content. I would have no problem recommending it to 13/14 and up.

Carey

S. Krishna said...

I've never heard about this book, but it sounds great! Thanks for the review!

Ladytink_534 said...

I just know I'll love this! Great review :)

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.