The Strange And Deadly Portraits Of Bryony Gray by E. Latimer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book, targeted to the Middle-Grade reader, is an imaginative spin-off from Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray. It's a clever enough idea but research issues and anachronisms kind of tanked my enjoyment of the book. Set around November 1901, (as discerned from a reference to Oscar Wilde's death being almost exactly a year ago, factually November 30th 1900), there are oddities that show a lack of research thoroughness on the part of the author and editor. While I get that children might be less affected by Queen Victoria's death in 1901, the somber tone in England (where they even used black edged stationery for the year following her death in January 1901) isn't captured. Furthermore, there are references to teddy bears, which were not even a thing until 1903, when simultaneously developed in the US and Germany (the latter by Stieff) as a reference to a cartoon image of US President Teddy Roosevelt. Anyway, it's the little things. Sadly this book arrived after my recent reading of Catherynne Valente's meticulously researched Glass Town Game about the Brontës at Haworth and it suffers in comparison. I was also bothered by the sketchiness of Bryony's painting style (excuse the awful pun there) since I paint and it is clear the author doesn't have a feel for painting and various media.
Middle-Grade readers will no doubt not be troubled by a discerning adult reader's concerns about accuracy. They might even be tempted to pick up Wilde's book, which would be a good thing.
I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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