Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book review - The Mesmerist

Title: The Mesmerist
Author: Ronald L. Smith
Genre: fantasy
Similar books: The Diviners by Libba Bray
                     The Case of the Devil's Interval by Emily Butler
a solid if simple adventure

Summary (provided by publisher): Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London's supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners. Can Jess fight these powerful forces? And will the group of strange children with mysterious powers she befriends be able to help? As shy, proper Jess transforms into a brave warrior, she uncovers terrifying truths about the hidden battle between good and evil, about her family, and about herself. 

My opinion: Think of this book as a younger, more transparent version of The Diviners. The source of these kid's abilities is known, as are the limits. Smith also incorporates more elements of magic: the fae, werewolves, seraphs, and so on. If you can put aside the obvious comparisons, we're left with a fairly strong team tale. Each character's abilities directly influence the plot, as well as their personal histories. Additionally, the setting is strong. We get a solid sense of historical London. Of course, that same setting will be a turn off for some young readers. It's a niche novel but a strong addition to that niche.

Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

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