Rating: 5/5 stars
With this being my first book from Alexandra Bracken and it being a middle grade book, I was very unsure on how I would feel about it, but I absolutely loved it. I will definitely be picking up other books from Alexandra Bracken in the future.
I knew I wanted to read this in October since it gave off some spooky vibes and reminded me of Halloween, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to get to it with all the other books I wanted to read in October. Surprisingly, I got to in within the first couple days of the month and I’m so glad I did.
This is such an interesting read. I honestly didn’t expect much since it is middle grade, but it really surprised me. Some middle grade books tend to talk down to readers, but I don’t feel like The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding did that at all. Of course, I haven’t read her young adult books to compare how she writes in those compared to this, but compared to some other middle grade books I’ve read, this one is very well written.
Prosper Redding is an almost thirteen year old boy who feels like he never fits in and that no one understands him. It seems like his only friend is his twin sister, Prue, but even she has her own set of friends, who happen to be the ones who torment him. He especially feels like he’s the odd one out in his family since everyone is wealthy, powerful, and successful. Very quickly, it’s very apparent why his family and his ancestors are like this.
“We came from a family of winners, record-setters, and firsts, and there wasn’t a day that went by that our grandmother let me forget that I wasn’t one of them.”
Centuries ago, an ancestor of Prosper’s made a deal with a fiend, but that ancestor broke that deal so now the fiend is living in Prosper! Then, Prosper is no longer in his town of Redhood, but in Salem, Massachusetts.
Throughout this story, there is so much humor. Alastor’s sections were hilarious. I know he’s should be hated, but it’s kind of hard when he’s so hilarious all the time.
The messages in this book are just as amazing. Prosper, Alastor, and even Nell all learned that it’s never too late to start over. Each person is deserving of a fresh start and no one should have to be their ancestor’s mistakes. Holding grudges doesn’t solve anything and definitely aren’t worth it.
This book also deals with the the amazing message on how important the arts programs are in schools. While it’s never said that Prosper’s school in Redwood doesn’t have any arts programs, I assume they don’t since at twelve years old (almost thirteen), he has never even taken an art class. There’s also a very important discussion about Nell and her wish to play the lead in the play her school is doing. The part is intended for a male, so the director and drama teacher don’t think it’s right for Nell to play it. It’s made very clear by Prosper that there isn’t any reason Nell shouldn’t be allowed to audition for the part.
And oh my goodness, Nell’s mom is a lesbian. I’m all for books that normalize LBGT+ families and seeing it in a middle grade book just blew my mind. I do wish it had been done a littler differently since Nell’s mom has passed away and we never meet her in the story.
There is a very abrupt cliffhanger that made me literally groan when the book ended. I need more of Prosper Redding and Alastor and I need it now.
Highly recommend The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken. It exceeded my expectations so much and I hope there is a sequel soon.