Aylee's Reviews > Splendors and Glooms

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
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Aug 22, 2012

it was amazing
Read from July 03 to 06, 2012

In short: Splendors and Glooms showcases Laura Amy Schlitz's masterful storytelling and ability to transport the reader to her fully realized setting.


Splendors and Glooms is a most apt title for this book, a Victorian Era fantasy set in dank and gloomy London featuring bewitching and splendid marionette theatre shows. Splendors and Glooms follows orphans Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, and rich girl Clara Wintermute, as they are manipulated and used by two sinister magicians caught up in an ancient feud, indeed as though they are the puppets themselves. Though it is labeled as Middle Grade, there's a very dark and disturbing undertone to this Gothic mystery that may be more suitable to a more mature readership.

Splendors and Glooms features a large cast of varied characters, all exceedingly well developed and distinct. I was so impressed at how quickly I grew so fond of the three main characters: Prim and lady-like Lizzie Rose, blunt and unabashed Parsefall, and tragic and guilt-ridden Clara - these are some of the most fully realized characters I've read this year. And it's not just the main cast of characters; the side characters are remarkably complex and interesting as well. The witch and the puppeteer Grisini and their history, especially, were fantastically fascinating additions to the story.

The most brilliant part of Splendors and Glooms though is Laura Amy Schlitz's incredible talent at transporting the reader into the setting, utterly and completely. Never have I read a book with a Victorian London setting that was so rich and masterfully described. And it was also written very much in the mode of Dickens' era literature. Laura Amy Schlitz has written a book that totally could've been an actual book in Victorian times and that is not an easy feat to accomplish. She's either a consummately skilled writer or a time traveller from Victorian London. I'm betting time traveller.

Though I think some people may find the pacing of Splendors and Glooms to be a bit slow, I personally was constantly invested in the story and the characters and was held entranced by the realistic setting and the skilful writing. And... it's a standalone, guys! With an ending that I loved, too. Splendors and Glooms will be published August 28, 2012. I highly recommend it.
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