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Review: The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg

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The Tombs by Deborah Shaumberg // VBC ReviewThe Tombs
Deborah Schaumberg
Published: Feb. 20, 2018 (HarperTeen)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars

Avery lives in a tenement and works with the other undesirable kids as a welder. Her mother is gone, taken away to The Tombs as a mental patient years earlier, and her father has struggled ever since. While he used to make amazing clocks, he no longer does that, preferring to tinker on other things instead. When Avery starts to believe she may have the same mental issues as her mother, and defies her father to learn more, they find themselves making a great enemy—one that will stop at nothing to see Avery in The Tombs alongside her mother.

The setting is New York, late 1800s. It’s after the Civil War, though I always felt that this particular New York had more than a bit of a steampunk feeling to it—particularly when discussing the balloons used to transport troops, etc. However, this is more hinted at than actually thrown in the reader’s face, so it could easily have gone either way. If you’re not a fan of steampunk, don’t let that put you off here; it really is very subtle. The city is dark and dank—pretty accurate, based on history—and in some ways is one of the characters of the story itself. Then again, New York often is.

The characters were interesting, though sometimes a bit more one-dimensional than I liked. Avery is interesting, her father a little less so. Her friends actually felt more real to me than her father did in some ways, particularly at the end (though I will give no spoilers). Avery’s friends and the traveling people in the story were much more interesting to me, as they seemed more realistic, dark and light together, not fully one or the other. Avery’s enemy—I’m still up in the air about him. It’s possible there will be another book where more information is gained about him, but without that he’s very one-dimensional. All evil, all the time.

The story itself I did enjoy. Historical fiction, even with elements of steampunk, is usually interesting to me, unless they just go completely off the rails. I really liked the unusual ability that Avery had, and the way it was presented in the story. Definitely lent a different outlook to many things that would have seemed so black and white in a reading without that. The Tombs is just a fun read that I would certainly recommend to friends—perfect for the beach or spring break vacation…brain candy all the way.

Note: Schaumberg includes an author’s note explaining her choice to use the term “gypsy” in the book due to historical accuracy. She does acknowledge it is no longer an acceptable term for the Romanai people.

Sexual content: none

2 Responses to “Review: The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg”

  1. Jennrenee says:

    I just couldn’t get into this book. I dnf’d this one. Glad you liked it.

    • Beth C. says:

      It definitely would be a hit-or-miss for most. Sorry you didn’t like it, though! It always bums me out to DNF…

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