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Author: Latimer, E.
Publisher: Tundra Books
Year Published: 2018
ISBN: 978-1101919286
Grades: Grade 5, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grades 9 to 12

The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Grey

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When Bryony Gray picks up a paintbrush, she creates extraordinarily detailed and beautiful portraits. For the last six years, her uncle and aunt have capitalized on her skill, keeping her locked in the attic all day to paint the gentry of London. One day though, Bryony is going to get out of the attic, go to live with her mysterious benefactor, and perhaps even make her first friend in that girl who lives next door…
E. Latimer draws her main inspiration from “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, expanding upon the mystic elements in Oscar Wilde’s book and delivering a Gothic Victorian novel in a format accessible for young adults. Readers will be drawn in by the familiar tropes Latimer weaves in (locked in a room, mistreated by pseudo-parents, orphaned) but will stay for the fascinating characters in Byrony and her neighbors, Mira and Thompson. This is a story driven by its strong female leads, from Byrony herself, working to understand a curse she inherited from her famous father and trying to contain the damage that comes from it, to Mira, a funky, loyal girl yearning to be a traveller and explorer, willing to help a total stranger at risk to herself, to the enigmatic villainess weaving herself in and out of Bryony’s life/
The guys too have their place; Mira’s brother Thomas defies the stereotypes of the Victorian male hero, instead turning anxious quirks into saving features as he becomes the voice of caution for their group. These characters work wonderfully in Latimer’s England and give a touch of the Regency era translated for the modern, Steampunk-loving audience. A novel great for junior and senior high schoolers that are tired of the traditional fantasy and science fiction or have an interest in the Victorian era. This is also a great resource for teachers who want something to supplement and/ or generate interest in Oscar Wilde’s works.

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