Book Review: Peregrine Harker & The Black Death by Luke Hollands

Peregrine Harker & The Black Death by Luke Hollands is a historical mystery set in 1908. Fifteen year old Peregrine Harker is a dreamer trying to earn a living as a newspaper reporter after his parents disappear and are assumed dead on an adventure. His day dreaming about being a boy-detective right out of the penny-dreadfuls becomes reality when a simple interview about the price of tea throws him into a mystery that involves a secret society, murder, and smuggling. Death seems to be stalking Harker as he seeks the truth and aims to do the right thing. Partnered with one of the most powerful men in town, meeting his daughter, facing an old enemy, and reuniting with a cousin are only the beginning of the story. But, figuring out who to trust might be the biggest mystery of all.

Peregrine Harker & The Black Death is a tightly woven mystery about smuggling and death. There is the obligatory love interest, who I will definitely talk about, and of course the rival. I enjoyed the fact that Harker had a back-story that made his particular skill set make sense and that details about important secondary characters were given. I also like the feel of classic pulp fiction. I was waiting on mustache twirling and evil laughter, I could easily see the story in black and white as a silent movie. I do not mean this as a bad thing, it is fun and entertaining, which is just what many are looking for in a summer or fun read. I had to problems with the book, one is that Louisa (the love interest) is a little inconsistent for me. She is adventurous, brave, and a great shot- but is physically weak and swooning. I know that swooning is big for women in the stories that this book emulates but I was hoping that her strength would be a little more consistent. My other issue is that there is enough death and explosions and whatnot to keep this book in the young adult market, along with the ages of the main players, however large portions of the story might appeal more to the middle school set rather than high school and older young adults.

I recommend Peregrine Harker & The Black Death to readers that enjoy mysteries and historical fiction, particularly those that have any interest in pulp fiction and movies from the early twentieth century. There are twists that I never saw coming, and some that I expected from the beginning. It is a fun and exciting read with explosions, a love interest, deception, even a car chase or two. It is not high literature, but I do not think that that was the goal, or necessary, to read and enjoy any book.
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