After reading all of the negative reviews on The Peculiars I wasn't expecting that much. I was happily surprised that although the book is rather slow-paced, the setting was definitely worth it.
Lena's dad was a goblin, a Peculiar. Now the government has decided that all Peculiars have to be sent to work in mines in Scree, a inhospitable and wild land. She has the strange triple-jointed hands and large feet that point to goblinism, and she is scared she has also inherited her father's wickedness. When she turns eighteen and receives a letter of her father, she decides to go to Scree to find him.
I think the blurb of The Peculiars is very misleading. It boasts a thrilling adventure, but to be honest the adventure part of this book is very little. It's mostly about Lena's insecurity about her identity and how to live with the stigma of being different. Big parts of the story are spent in libraries, in coaches and in tearooms. It reminds me of the slow but dark gait of Victorian fiction.
The steampunk aspect of the book is rather light - I think you could better classify The Peculiars as alternate history. There are some nifty inventions, but since Lena herself doesn't really have an interest in them, they are only in the background.
I was very interested in the mythology behind the Peculiars, but this book didn't answer all of my questions. I hope we learn more about them in the next book. Or isn't there going to be one? I can't find information on this being a series or not, but if it's a standalone I'm going to be very disappointed.
Even though the main character Lena is rather whiny, I very much enjoyed the story because of an interesting cast of secondary characters and the overall mood. Ms McQuerry does dark and foreboding very well, and that was mostly what kept me reading. I would like to read more about this world and find out which kind of Peculiars there are and how they came to be.