I'm sure you've noticed by now that I have a special place in my reading list for books that target a... *ahem* younger audience than I would generally be part of.
There are some books, though, that I think are part of that category, but when I read them, they don't seem that way at all. Does this mean that the book was incorrectly marketed, or does it mean the author is treating kids as intelligent, independent people in their own right?
I honestly have conflicted feelings about this.
Montmorency, by Eleanor Updale, is a book I picked up when I was in college and didn't have time to read anything much longer than a hundred pages or so. Size-wise, Montmorency could fit comfortably on my shelf between Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But the tone and subject of the story couldn't be more different.
Taking a look at the reviews on GoodReads (because I track my reading list there, in case you didn't know) I can see that there are a lot of people who had mixed feelings about the book, and I think this is part of the reason.
Is it Juvenile Fiction? Young Adult Fiction? Is it a mystery story? An adventure?
Most of the negative reviews seem to follow the same basic message: "I thought this was going to be X, but it wasn't, and that was disappointing."
The story itself was fascinating, though nothing "big" happened during the course of the plot. The main character's development is slow and subtle, and there's no single event or conflict that forces him to change all at once.
I think it's this confusion over what the book was promising in its introduction and the fuzzy genre distinctions that made the audience overall feel uncertain about this book.
Personally, I gave it 5 stars, and let me explain why.
Though the way the book presents itself is unclear, I think that's a direct reflection of the main character's search for a new identity. Why should the identity of the book be clear when the identity of the main character is not?
Now, to be clear, I think the cover and marketing might have been a little more on point about what the book is promising its readers, and that would eliminate most of the negative reviews.
But I also think that what the book does, it does exceptionally well. So, five out of five, will read the sequels.
If you like books like Changeling or old stories about Victorian crime (Jonathan Wild, Thief Taker General, anyone?) then this is definitely a book you would like. Society and crime. Many surprisingly accurate details about Victorian society and the sewer system.