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Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Splendors and Glooms (edition 2012)

by Laura Amy Schlitz

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3282833,493 (3.99)36
Title:Splendors and Glooms
Authors:Laura Amy Schlitz
Info:Candlewick (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:children's fiction, fantasy, magic, orphans, puppets, England

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Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

2012 (9) children (7) children's (5) death (6) England (12) fairy tale (7) family (6) fantasy (51) fiction (23) gothic (7) grade 6 (7) historical (12) historical fantasy (6) historical fiction (12) kidnapping (6) London (10) magic (26) MG (5) middle grade (9) mystery (11) Newbery (6) Newbery Honor (12) orphans (16) puppets (26) to-read (15) U-W (6) Victorian (12) witches (12) YA (8) young adult (6)

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
I can see why this won a Newbery honor, since it's extremely well written, but I have trouble imagining many actual middle schoolers reading this for pleasure. It's very Dickensian in nature; we see life for the poor, and life for the wealthy, with a truly despicable villain. The dash of magic is hugely important to the plot of course, but I read it mostly to be about class issues. The narrator, Davina Porter, was absolutely perfect and added to my enjoyment of the novel greatly—I'm not sure I'd have been able to get through it if I hadn't listened to it. ( )
  Tahleen | Feb 16, 2014 |

Enthralling? Yes. Dark? Yes. Victorian? Yes, right down to the kind of grotesque mourning customs. Comic? Nope. Not at all. ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
It's really hard to rate this one. It's very well written, the characters are nicely drawn and completely believable, as is the setting. There are lots of interesting and original ideas in it (though not the idea of turning people into puppets, which was done in children's magical fantasy by Dianna Wynne Jones back in 1980 in The Magicians of Caprona, another Italian-themed book). But I can't give this one more than three stars because I really did not enjoy it very much. There's not a lot to enjoy. The reader goes through a series of miserable, painful experiences with the characters, young and old. Nothing the slightest bit pleasant happens until the last few pages. In addition, a great deal of time is spent exploring the feelings and lives of the adult characters--I can't imagine a kid caring much about this, since I sure didn't. For that reason, and because it's so emotionally dark and heavy, I don't think it will appeal to younger MG readers. ( )
  Inky_Fingers | Jan 31, 2014 |
I am wavering between three and four stars. The premise is right up my alley: plucky and clever children encounter intrigue, mystery, and magic in Victorian London. I liked almost all the characters (particularly the children Lizzie Rose, Clara, and Persefall). And the book is full of wonderful descriptions: escaping the cold heavy fog in a cozy drawing room; strawberry jam, warm fluffy biscuits and tea with loads of milk and sugar; the ermine lining on a beautiful warm winter coat; paper cones stuffed with sugared candy and pretty ribbons. I love love love reading these about these small luxuries in books and for that reason alone, I enjoyed it very much.

And yet. The story was just okay. There were a few things going on here: Clara is the only surviving child after her siblings are wiped out by cholera and her parents ooze grim disapproval for anything remotely fun or pleasant. She sees an amazing puppet show in the park and convinces her parents to hire the puppeteer to perform at her birthday party. After disgracing herself at the party, she disappears. Meanwhile, an old and very sick witch named Cassandra has this weird mind meld with the puppeteer and, though they had a horrible following out years ago, she summons him to her bedside to learn the secret of the magic fire opal. With the puppeteer gone, his two wards Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are left to fend by themselves. And then somehow ALL OF THESE CONVERGE. It is sort of weak, but nonetheless enjoyable, and more importantly, not too scary because I am a baby who cannot read that sort of thing. Especially in kid's books, which lull you into thinking they will be spooky but not sinister. Those are the worst! But that is not this type of book, so fret not.
  amy_marie26 | Jan 10, 2014 |
This was difficult to put down once I started - truly the story was entrancing. Grissini is a cruel guardian who uses fear and magic to keep his two wards under his spell. Then they encounter young Clara, surrounded by grief, and their world is forever changed. Clara disapears and a force darker than Grissini suddenly enters their life and they find they are real life puppets in a drama none of them could ever have imagined. ( )
  mbklibrary | Aug 25, 2013 |
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For Susan and Tom Brown,
who were with me every step of the way,
reading every chapter of every draft

And for Kevin Coll,
who rescued me in my darkest hour,
and told me that the magic bone is connected to the love bone.
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The witch burned.
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Book description
When Clara vanishes after the puppeteer Grisini and two orphaned assistants were at her twelfth birthday party, suspicion of kidnapping chases the trio away from London and soon the two orphans are caught in a trap set by Grisini's ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it is too late.
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When Clara vanishes after the puppeteer Grisini and two orphaned assistants were at her twelfth birthday party, suspicion of kidnapping chases the trio away from London and soon the two orphans are caught in a trap set by Grisini's ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it is too late.… (more)

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