Curio by Evangeline Demark

Each morning, Grey joins the other occupants of her town to line up for their ration of the potion the Chemists hand out, a potion the townspeople need to survive to avoid starvation. Grey is a rule follower who only has a vague understanding of why her father and grandfather don't require the same potion to survive, instead secretly giving theirs away to those in need. When Grey's best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists' enforcers while he is trying to protect Grey, Grey ends up taking risks that place her very life in danger. Forced to flee, she runs to her grandfather's shop where an old curio cabinet is unlocked by her touch and she tumbles into a world that is like nothing she's ever known.

Evangeline Denmark has created a fascinating world unlike anything I've ever read before, with characters who are equally interesting and complex and have to be experienced to be believed. I'd never imagined a world populated by porcies and tocks and other such strange creatures. The Chemists who control the town where Grey grew up are frightening and oppressive, and as such immediately made me feel sympathy for Grey and the others who must survive under their control. The story has much to celebrate, from colourful characters to a unique plot, to courage and love in unexpected places. I do have to say, though, that the plot dragged a bit for me in several sections, slowing down the pace of the story to the point that half way through the book I put it down and wasn't sure I'd return. It may have been because I was just figuring out Grey's world when she was flung into another one, and I still didn't have a clear picture of what was going on with the Chemists and the potion and the rest. However, the unique flavour of the story drew me back in and I'm glad I kept going to see how things progressed to the end.

Teen readers who are looking for something a bit different than their ordinary fare should check out "Curio". They will enjoy the book on a number of levels. I look forward to what will come next from Demark's fertile imagination. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Thomas Nelson, and the Booklook program, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

about the author...

Evangeline DenmarkEvangeline Denmark cannot sing. This tragic discovery led to bouts of angst-ridden poetry writing in her teens, an ill-advised relationship with Edward Fairfax Rochester, and the compulsive creation of her own fictional worlds. 

Having found her true voice, Evangeline writes fiction with hints of whimsy, glimmers of fantasy, and strokes of the supernatural. Her debut novel, Curio, sets coming-of-age and first love against a backdrop of steam-propelled greed and societal repression. For a peek into the origins of the Curio world check out the prequel novella, Mark of Blood and Alchemy.

Evangeline lives in Colorado with her husband, an engineer with a sense of humor and an artistic streak, two ravenous sons who steal her laptop and demand dinner, a cat, two turtles, and a cattle dog who runs the house.

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