Review: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Heiber

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Percy Parker
Leanna Renee Heiber

Leisure Books
322 pages
Romance / Fantasy

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What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Considering how few of Queen Victoria’s Londoners knew of it, the great Romanesque fortress was dreadfully imposing, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met the powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadow, the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She knew simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow-white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gifts. But this arched stone doorway offered a portal to a new life, an education far from the convent—and an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…

This will probably be pretty short. The Strangely Beautiful Tale… left me underwhelmed and a bit annoyed, so I don’t really want to spend much more of my time on it. I read it only because it was the monthly choice for my bookclub. Had it stayed the tale of a group of humans possessed by the souls of the ancient Greek muses that went around Victorian London exorcising rouge ghosts, it probably would have been a pretty good story. But no, on top a potentially interesting supernatural story, another plodding and sickly sweet romance story involving an albino girl with horrible self-esteem, talking in flowery language and pining for pages upon pages about a professor twice her age.

After the prelude, where six kids get possessed by ancient souls and hear a prophecy from an ancient Greek goddess, the story shifts 18 years later, so that the main supernatural six of the Guard are no longer kids, but embittered and lonely 30-somethings who have lost faith in the prophecy of their goddess. This was a surprise, but I probably should have known this was a romance and not YA by the cover. Despite that, I hoped for more ghosts and less purple prose. Whenever the Guard was on mission, things got interesting. As long as the main bad guy remained shadowy, things were interesting. The increasingly spectacular supernatural events were interesting, though wedged between the tedium of an immature teenager’s epic love for a creepy, somewhat mean professor.

Then you throw in a femme fatale meant to cause conflict amongst the Guard while she attempts to hunt down Percy. Her character oozed evil and yet everyone fell at her feet, driving a wedge between the members of the Guard. Point of view had a habit of shifting between characters with a moment’s notice and not in a very fluid way. It didn’t help that none of the characters really had a distinct voice.

If you don’t mind whiney protagonists with no self-esteem, pining after men twice their age because of a love that spans eons, then you might find this book more enjoyable than I did. It just felt repetitive and predictable with unlikeable characters. It felt like there was potential in some of the characters and the idea of the Guard, but the execution felt like a second thought to the cloying romance that just left me annoyed.

And that’s all the time I’m going to spend on this one.