Ordinary Monsters

Flatiron. (The Talents, Bk. 1). Jun. 2022. 672p. ISBN 9781250833662. $28.99. FANTASY
DEBUT In Miro’s historical fantasy, set in 1880s London and Edinburgh, two children are hunted by a man made of smoke and learn to harness their mysterious powers. Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid was much abused in his native Mississippi, yet he is still physically unscathed because his body can heal in an instant, while eight-year-old orphan Marlowe can melt a person into a puddle of flesh. Charlie and Marlowe are recovered by a flinty female detective who sets them on a path to London and the Cairndale Institute, a haven for children with strange powers that also harbors deeper, darker secrets. As Charlie, Marlowe, and the others at the Institute discover the truth, they learn that monsters can hide in plain sight. Miro’s world may be too bleak for some readers, but the action and characters’ connections are lights in the dark. The plot tangles are confusing, but Miro’s skillful prose will lead readers through the maze.
VERDICT This grim but poignant debut showcases a bleak Victorian England, engaging characters, and the desire to belong.
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