Splendors and Gloom

Splendor's and Gloom.jpgWeird. That is the only way I can describe Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz. As far as children’s fiction books go, this is rather dark, and the story is confusing. The story bounces back and forth between different character’s and perspectives, and the real focus of the story does not become clear until much later in the book. (About ½ way through the book you finally figure out what happened to Clara, and ¾ of the way through the book you finally realize how all these characters relate to one another.)

The synopsis of the story makes it sound like the focus is discovering what happened to Clara, however, in truth, her disappearance is only a small part of the bigger picture. Perhaps a better synopsis would be:

An old curse, two enemies, and the lives of three unhappy children collide in this tale of magic and greed set in London in the 1800s. Cassandra, a witch who will stop at nothing to dispel her curse, and Grisini, a master puppeteer with a desire for power and money, care little for the lives they must take and the happiness they will destroy in their quest for freedom and power. Caught in between are three children – Clara Wintermute, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall – each being viewed as a tool – a puppet – for Cassandra and Grisini to achieve their desires. Life was hard for the children, and thanks to Cassandra and Grisini, it just became harder.

The story though, is not without merit. The children, even Parsefall who is the most “hardened” of the children, are examples of selflessness and courage. Lizzie Rose in particular is a good example of compassion, showing mercy and kindness even to those who hurt and mistreat her. The story also has an interesting way of dealing with each character’s grief and helping them find the peace and healing they very much need.

Fatemarked by David Estes

Fatemarked.jpgFatemarked by David Estes is the first in The Fatemarked Epic series. It’s been a while since I’ve come across a book that I couldn’t put down, but Fatemarked had me hooked. I couldn’t and didn’t want to put it down.

The book is well written and the characters are multi-faceted. Each character has its strengths, and none are perfect. Even the characters you don’t like and want to hate have a human side to them that makes you empathize or at least recognize they weren’t always the monsters they were portrayed to be.

If you are looking for an enjoyable escape and you’ve got several hours to spare, check out Fatemarked. But be prepared, you won’t want to stop reading.

I would say this book is PG-15. There is a sex scene in it, but its no more than what you would see in a PG-13 movie, and you can skip over it. However, there is cruelty and violence in the book which is why I gave it the PG-15 rating. I would not want my young teen to read the book. The cruelty is by no means graphic, but it is enough that some people may be uncomfortable.