10 December 2009

Review: THE DRESSKEEPER by Mary Naylus ***

"Have you ever pretended to be someone else? Picky Robson thought things couldn’t get any worse. Her life is a boy-free zone, she’s being bullied at school, then Mum announces she has to look after Gran every weekend for the foreseeable future. One night, unknowingly tempting fate, Picky slips into a flouncy old dress from the depths of an ancient chest and finds herself back in 17th Century London. But she is not alone. A weirdo in a wig is trying to kill her - mistaking her for a girl called Amelia. Who is Amelia? Can Picky change the past by exposing the murdered? And will she make it back alive?"

I've seen sooo many great reviews for this book everywhere and since it sounded like a great read, I was delighted to be offered to read it (many thanks, Prospera Publishing!). I'm pleased to say it did turn out to be a cute little read, but I couldn't help thinking that the story or the characters were slightly underdeveloped ... This could partly be due to the fact that this book is mostly suitable for younger readers and I don't read too many of those so it's hard for me to give an objective review since I'm not an expert on the genre ... Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable read.

It's narrated by Picky (whose real name is Penelope), who is actually a rather flawed character (she's certainly no beauty queen), but she really brings the story to life and she's really funny most of the time. I really loved her narration and even though I rolled my eyes at her a few times, the truth is that I was probably just as silly or even worse when I was 13, hehe. Our Picky travels through time when she puts on an old dress in her granny's attic and soon she's on a mission to save a girl called Amelia from being killed on her wedding day. So she travels back and forth, from the 21st century to the 17th, trying to find a way to save Amelia, who happens to be her in the 17th century. It may sound complicated, but trust me, it's really not.
During her time travels, Picky gets to learn about the life in London at that time, which was interesting to read, even though things were sometimes a bit on the TMI side - let's just say London back then didn't quite smell of roses, hehe.

I enjoyed the narration and reading about London back then, but I'm afraid I found the characters slightly cartoonish ... I just thought they were all overly simplistic and I couldn't really feel for any of them. My favourite, apart from Picky, was probably Ollie, Picky crazy little brother who comes up with such randoms insults, haha. Probably not too pleasant to be around, but fun to read about. ;)

I wasn't entirely convinced by the plot either - I just felt there were loopholes and not everything quite worked for me. I didn't really find it fast paced or anything, but it was exciting enough to keep me reading for sure! There's a twist at the end that I didn't see coming, but I can't say I was really blown away by it either.

But do you know what I really, really dislike about this novel? The cover! This book could've had such a cute cover if it featured any of the pretty dresses described in the book, but instead this poor ended up with this dark thing. You can't even see what's on it unless you look really closely and see that it's supposed to be big dresses. I don't like the font either. Am I the only one who's not a fan?

Anyway, please don't get me wrong, this is actually a really good read and I think I would've loved it if I was younger, but now I couldn't help looking at it from a different perspective. It's an original novel that covers several other subjects (including bullying, being different, dementia, family problems, friendship etc.), not just time travelling. I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for a quick enjoyable read! The good news is that you can get your copy at the Prospera Publishing with free international shipping, woo!

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 2/5

ps: Book Chick City has just published a very interesting interview with the author so do check that out! Also, feel free to read what other lovely book bloggers have to say about The Dresskeeper: The Bookette; Juju at Tales of Whimsy; So Many Books, So Little Time; Wondrous Reads; Book Chick City; The Sweet Bookshelf; I Want to Read That, Another Book Blog Whore. Several of these bloggers are running a contest too so visit them if you'd like a copy!


Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Nice review. Thanks for the shout-out :D

Chicklish said...

Thanks for a really interesting review. I'm really curious about this book and it's great to hear a different opinion on it. (Someone other than me reviewed it for our site, so I need to buy myself a copy and check it out!)

Becky said...

Oh, I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it as much as I did. I thought the characterisation was excellent. I guess any plot that involves time travel is going to be slightly unrealistic hence my natural dislike of said device. However, as you know, I thought this book was fab. A really thoughful and honest review!

Book Chick City said...

I realise dislike the cover too, it's so dark and boring to what could have been. I agree with you regarding your thoughts on the book. Thanks for the mention too :)

Pam said...

Been wanting to read some more Historical YA.

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