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Sheba gazed through her tiny window to the seaside view beyond. It was a beautiful summer morning.
The sounds of the beach drifted in and she closed her eyes to hear them better. Children splashing and laughing. The cries of gulls. She could smell the tang of fresh seaweed. Her mind drifted down to the sand and pebbles below. She could almost feel the waves lapping around her toes and the sun on her face, almost taste the salt on her lips.
But such things were not meant for her, and dreaming about them only made it worse. Sheba gave a deep sigh and ran her ivory comb through her chestnut-brown curls, taking out the tangles. She always took great care of her locks, brushing and combing to keep them shining.
Everyone said she had a lovely head of hair.

About the book

The Peculiars are a band of misfits, trapped in a nightly Victorian sideshow.

There’s Wolfgirl, Sheba; Sister Moon, who can move at the speed of light; and Monkey Boy, ace climber and human stink bomb. But during the day, in a world of childsnatchers, grave robbers and dastardly doctors, they solve the mysteries no one else cares about – including why London’s poorest children are being snatched from the banks of the Thames …

Winner of the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition 2011, The Peculiars (formerly known as Freaks) is a richly imagined gothic mystery set in the grimy world of Victorian London from the author of the Blue Peter Award-winning Podkin One-Ear

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Press reviews

“A really exciting debut full of mystery, adventure and dark humour.”


“Freaks is pretty much everything a 10 year old reader could ask for in a story... it is funny, exciting and nail-biting in equal measures, with a plot that races along.”


“...a keen sense for jet-propelled adventure, evocative scene-setting and strong, memorable characters. It's a thoroughly modern ripping yarn.”


Author notes

'My approach to writing The Peculiars was to cram in everything the 10-year-old me would have killed to read. So it's full of crumbling Victorian backstreets, sinister villains, explosions, epic swordfights, and jokes about poo. And it's even got a ninja or two.'

The Peculiars in the news

Children's Fiction Competition: What Makes a Winner?

So you’ve written your children’s novel – or perhaps you’re planning on writing one before our 18 December deadline! – but either way you’re probably curious about what we’re looking for. Here’s a little info on past winners for an insight into ...

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