14 September 2011

Book Review: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

okThe title alone is a mouthful, and I still have to Google the title sometimes (like just now). But OH MY GOD.

This one requires a preface, too. You see, I was born in the wrong era. My life, my love, my heart belongs to Gothic fiction. Poe, Mary Shelley, et al give me such a happy that sometimes I can't help myself. I have books on Jack the Ripper at home--I swear I can crack it!--and an obsession with all things dark and mysterious.

And that's where TSBTMPP fits in (an acronym isn't much shorter than the title!).

Percy Parker is a Gothic romance through and through with some terrifically paranormal aspects drawing from Greek mythology. And there's also Alexi. Sweet God, I love Alexi. But I'll get to that momentarily.

Here's a brief summary, a la me:

Percy Parker sees dead people, and sadly, she has a better relationship with them than with the living. The dead don't notice her strange appearance. She feels safer in their company. However, Percy wants an education, and Athens Academy in London is the last resort.

While there, Percy makes a discovery about her melancholy professor, Alexi, and his companions that alters her life forever. They're all a part of a prophecy given to Alexi and his friends as children, and she is the missing piece to completing the vexing puzzle.

If only they knew it...

*Spoiler-free review*

What gripped me first about this book was its heroine. I know we've been seeing in YA (and this "new adult" category) a lot of snarky, ass-kicking heroines with attitude. Ball-busters more or less. The heroine in Leah Clifford's A Touch Mortal is a great example. Percy is none of that. She's quiet, withdrawn, and doesn't look to have a speck of tough in her. Part of it's her appearance--she's albino. Yes. White hair, light eyes, light skin (think Powder). She's an outcast. The school she's attending now is her one chance at a life beyond convent walls, if only she can make the transition.

She's immediately drawn to one of her professors, Alexi Rychman (for good reason), and he to her, though he's a bit older than she. She's 18. He's almost 40. Unconventional with a capital U. Alexi is a tortured hero. Sexy, mysterious, hurting. He's gripping, too. And. I. Love. It. I'm such a sucker for a tortured soul, and he absolutely is. The prophecy given to him and his friends when they were children came from a figure known simply as the Goddess who imbued them with different gifts. She also promised her return, and Alexi has been looking for her ever since. Now, the group is a sort of paranormal Ghost Busters, dealing with angry spirits and whatnot, and also a malevolent force targeting women in Whitechapel, among other places (ahem, Jack the Ripper, ahem). Percy throws a whole 'nother layer of complexity on an already-complex situation, and the ensuing chaos is just too good to miss.

The book's style is a little unconventional as well. Written in 3rd person omniscient, we get to know what EVERYBODY'S thinking. Even the bad guys. So rather than an element of surprise, there's an element of dread following readers. Yes, we know something bad is going to happen, and we're chewing our nails off trying to figure out how the group will handle it. The head-hopping (a dreaded no-no, right?) really isn't that distracting. It's more like each character passes off the story stick to the next. You drift from character to character, which makes a much easier transition.

Also, it's written just beautifully. I felt like I was reading Mary Shelley all over again. Glorious, I tell you! Simply glorious!

As I said, this is a romance. And I've said I've become far more lenient with romance than I have been. I'm totally down with a happily ever after, because we all want one and deserve one. However, for me, this is one of the aspects where the book is a little overwritten. Not Twilight overwritten, but just...a little much for me. My tastes are sensitive, and at points it goes over the top. Especially the end. I love you, Leanna, but the whole scene made me want to skip. So, be forewarned, readers. It was much for me, but it might be perfect for you.

I give Percy 4.5/5 stars. The book is gripping, beautifully written, and throws together some of my all-time favorite aspects: the paranormal, Victorian London, Jack the Ripper, and a brooding man. That's all I need to have a happy.


Elaine AM Smith said...

I've been looking for a good book that wasn't MG research. I think I'll be looking our for this one :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great read! :D

lexcade said...

IT'S SO GOOD! I have a major lit crush on Alexi. Just in case that wasn't made clear in the post ;)

J.A. Beard said...

I liked this, maybe not quite as much as you (4/5 for me). I tend to like my female MCs a bit feistier, so Percy being such a doormat bugged me for a while. It all came together in the end though. The sequel is downright epic.

I was surprised how much I like it. Gothic stuff sometimes has to work harder for me (I attribute it to post-Wuthering Heights Stress Disorder), but this one really spoke to me.

Grace Fonseca said...

New follower. I really like the title of your blog. This book was great. i see that you agree. Come visit me over at Livre De Amour-Books of Love.

lexcade said...

@J.A. I actually haven't read Wuthering Heights (bad English major! bad!). However, I love Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and I'm a huge fan of her husband's poetry. Leanna's writing put me in that frame more than Emily Bronte's writing. I'm not sure this even makes sense. It's been a long day ;) I'm glad you enjoyed the book. Leanna's a great talent and a huge sweetheart.

@Grace, Thanks for the follow and comment! I'm following you back.