Leslie Parry’s Church of Marvels pulled me in immediately with it’s book jacket; an interesting cover, a clever pitch on the inside, the phrase “tumultuous turn-of-the-centruy New York City”- I was hooked. It’s a fast read too. Bouncing back and forth between the main character’s (there are several) pasts and presents, the reader is pulled into the twisting, dark, and sometimes dangerous underworld of New York City in 1895. There is no down time in this book. Each chapter, written from the character’s point of view, gives important background information and usually ends with only a snippet of the truth to come. Shady floating fighting rings, underground communities of pickpocketing orphans, a main character framed and trapped in an asylum just out of reach of friends and family are just a few glimpses into the first chapters of CoM. I wouldn’t say this book is full of magic, but there is certainly an air for the impossible to become possible, for the unbelievable to become real, for what you thought to be true to be turned on it’s head and presented to you in a different light. This is fun, fast, and beautifully written. I’ll be keeping an eye out for Leslie Parry’s next book (this is her debut novel) She’s surely destined for marvelous things.
Reviewed by: Chris Fanning