When I read the title, Penny Dreadful, I thought perhaps something dreadful would happen, or perhaps, that the character Penny was, in fact, dreadful. I was pleasantly surprised that nothing dreadful (at least in my opinion) happened, though there were plot twists and turns that weren't altogether happy either. And the character, Penelope Grey, or Penny, is awesome, with a great deal of growth as a character throughout the story. She finds her "inner resourcefulness" and Sheri ds a friend, or two, or three, or four. And she finds out how to be happy. Her parents, too, are well drawn characters who flip expectations on their head. I noticed in Laurel Snyder's other books that she makes reference to elements of a good story and this book isno different. Often, characters make reference to something sounding like it belonged in a book. Penny makes reference to many of the books she has read. I'm hoping to compile a post with all those books, but as I didn't have post it's with me and read ever so quickly, it was hard to mark those occurrences, so I will just have to go back through to find them again. Darn. But, for example, and this is quite early in the book, so I don't think I'm giving too much away here: "This sorry state of affairs was only made more awful by the fact that Penelope had read enough books (they were just about the only thing that Penelope did not find boring) to know that bored little girls who live in mansions are usually spoiled.". So, that's where Penny starts: bored, spoiled, lonely, and sad. But where she ends up, both mentally and physically, is very different.
In addition to the excellent writing, I enjoyed the accompanying cover art and interior illustrations created by Abigail Halpin. They reflected the life and transformation of the story and the extension of a family to include friends and neighbors.
Check out Penny Dreadful today, if not sooner, as well as Laurel Snyder's other novels and picture books. Once I receive Bigger Than a Breadbox in the mail, you can expect to hear about it shortly thereafter.
Oh, wait...I never explained the title Penny Dreadful. I love when I learn something new or something I've never heard before and this is an instance of that. "Tney're, like, the very first comic books. Cheap old action stories. Chock-full of excitement and mystery. Thrills on every page, though not exactly what you'd call great literature."