Ever read a book you were SURE wouldn't be your thing, only to stay up all night to finish it? Well, thus is my experience with The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding.
I love middle grade fiction. Sometimes, however, I will start reading a middle grade fantasy that is set in contemporary times, and something about the voice will throw me off. I usually tend to like a more historical or a book set in an alternate world, where I can escape more easily. This book, however, grabbed my attention immediately because the character's voice is so very convincing. Prosper sounds just a normal kid. Alexandra Bracken manages to accomplish a difficult feat: she writes in the voice of a tween protagonist without seeming like she's trying too hard.
But voice without story would be nothing. This Dreadful Tale is dark and mysterious, has lots of magic and danger, yet is really accessible with its themes of friendship and acceptance in new places. Characters have to learn to trust people in situations where they have no idea who is telling truth or lies, and betrayal seems to lie around every bend. The relationship between Prosper and Alastor, a fiend who has taken up residence inside him, is especially intriguing. I found myself deeply invested in this tale, and couldn't stop turning pages until the end.
I love the world Bracken has created here, and the way magic works. The characters have grown from their surroundings, and the setting is deeply ingrained into plot elements as well. The entire books has a cohesiveness that is a definite sign of a master author.
The one bad thing? We have to wait for the next one, and the story left off in a place of some pretty high stakes!
Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history-that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper's great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made-and then broke-a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, eight-hundred-year-old Alastor isn't exactly the forgiving type.
The fiend has reawakened with one purpose--to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts to trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his afterlife without a side of eternal servitude, thanks. But with the help of his long-lost uncle, Barnabas, and his daughter, Nell, a witch-in-training, it seems like Prosper has at least a fighting chance of ridding himself of Alastor before the demon escapes and wreaks havoc on his family.
Little does Prosper know, the malefactor's control over his body grows stronger with each passing night and there's a lot Alastor isn't telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?
Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy stories where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. Her fiction has appeared in Circle Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, and in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis. She's the co-editor of the anthology MECH: Age of Steel and editor of Hath No Fury, and she is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast.