The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding follows soon-to-be thirteen year-old Prosper, who comes from a rich and enormously influential family in New England. But their success does not come from hard work. No, it comes from a deal with a devil, or more specifically a so called Malefactor by the name of Alastor. Due entirely to circumstances beyond his control, Prosper becomes possessed by that same Malefactor, who made the contract with Prosper’s ancestor, Honor Redding. What comes next is a tale of change, trust and fiendish affairs.
Comes out TODAY!
Alexandra Bracken is one of my favorite young adult authors, and her first leap into middle grade does not disappoint. This is the kind of book I wish had been around when I was twelve. It’s fun and eerie with a sense of looming darkness. The only thing that threw me off a bit was the fact that nothing really happens the first part of the book. It builds the setting, but not much else. The action and character development happens in the second half, and boy is it good.
Prosper has never been able to live up to what is expected of a Redding. His classmates bully him, his teachers don’t care for him and he’s afraid to admit his passion for art. A lot of that starts to change during the course of this first instalment of the series.
This dreadful tale has elements that challenges gender roles and other things that defy the general expectations we meet in society. There is a short scene in the middle of the book, which shows the fact that kids aren’t born to condemn something as wrong, it’s something they learn from their environment. And though it is only a very minor part of the story, I thoroughly appreciated it. Especially because this book is targeted towards the middle grade age, where you’re confused about the world and your brain is like a sponge, absorbing social cues and morals.
The majority of the novel takes place in Salem, Massachusetts. Which, you might know, is famous for the witch trials that took place during the 1690s. It’s the perfect setting for a novel reminiscent of movies like Practical Magic and Halloweentown. The reason I’m so excited about the setting is because after wanting to go to Salem, I finally went there this summer. It’s always awesome when a book is set somewhere you’ve been.
One of the things that played a major part in my enjoyment of the story was the characters. Prosper is very likeable and relatable. Alastor is unintentionally hilarious, and Nell, a young witch, is stubborn and an all-round strong female character. They all play an important role in why I liked the book so much.
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is a fun and delightfully creepy novel. It’s about family, trust and the possible danger of presumptions. At the same time it also tells a story of coincidence, and how it may lead to an unlikely partnership. Prosper and his fiendish resident, Alastor, find themselves in a situation they never saw coming. In order to save themselves, and consequently each other, they have to put their differences aside in order to succeed.
All in all, I loved this book and I want to thank Alexandra Bracken for making my 12-year-old self extremely happy. I had a lot of fun reading this novel, so much so that I’m eagerly looking forward to follow Prosper on the rest of his journey.
*I kindly received an ARC from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review*