Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Peculiarities by David Liss


Thomas Thresher is a Victorian gentleman who has never been asked to do much.  He has lived the life of a wastrel, drinking with his friends in London pubs and dallying his life away.  When his father dies, Thomas' life is changed.  He is now under the supervision of his elder brother, Walter, who has never liked him.  The will specifies that Thomas live with Walter and go to work in the Thresher family bank.  Walter also insists that Thomas marry a woman whose father Walter wants to do business with.

But London itself is also not doing well.  The Peculiarities, as they are called, have appeared.  Individuals wake to find themselves turned into wolves or other animals.  Women are reported to be having rabbits as babies.  There are strangers walking the streets who are murdering prostitutes.  Thomas is caught up in this as he has been sprouting leaves and is slowly turning into a tree. 

Thomas goes to a magical society to see if they can be of help.  There he meets Alastair Crowley, the renowned magician and enlists him to help.  He also gets help from the woman he is to marry and a family of women turned into wolves.  Thomas has also discovered that the bank is doing strange things and comes to suspect that it is connected to the Peculiarities in some fashion.  Can he find out what is going on and can he reverse his condition?

David Liss is a well-known historical fiction author.  His trademark is meticulous research.  In this new genre for him, the story is still accurate historically while adding the fantastic elements that make the story fall more in the fantasy genre.  Readers will cheer for Thomas as he grows from a feckless young man to someone ready to take on horrendous events.  I listened to this novel and found the narrator to be a good match.  The only quibble I had was that I found Thomas' voice too nasal to enjoy listening to.  This book is recommended for fantasy readers.

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