Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Sunday, 10 November 2013

A Place Called Perfect - Helena Duggan

‘It was as if everyone in Perfect was under a spell.’

This is a children’s tale by debut Irish writer and graphic designer Helena Duggan who has also designed the distinctive and apt cover artwork that illustrates her book's cover herself.

Violet Brown’s optician father is offered an attractive new job and the family moves to a town called Perfect. Violet is very reluctant to move, and doesn’t like the sound of the place at all. Ten-year-old Violet finds the place very peculiar; how can everything really be this perfect, she wonders, why does everyone wear those strange tinted glasses here, and what is it about the Archer brothers that doesn’t seem quite right? Then her Dad disappears and her Mam’s behavior becomes very uncharacteristic, leaving her feeling lonely and without any friends, the two people she loved and could trust letting her down; 'usually they were great, more like friends than parents. Perfect had changed all that.' When the slightest thing at school gets her into trouble, and then she begins to hear voices, she wonders what on earth is happening. Amongst all this chaos, she meets Boy, and she finds an ally and a friend in him; together can they make sense of what’s happened and find any way of somehow making things normal again?

This is a dark, imaginative children's story with magical, fantasy elements. I wondered if the story was somewhat allegorical too, in terms of how the majority of people in Perfect all behave in the same way, as they are required to, unquestioningly, and how there's a sort of resistant underclass. At times there is sadness, when Violet feels very alone in her new surroundings, with one of her parents gone and the other much changed from how she used to be. Violet is resilient, though, and determined, and once she is on to something she refuses to give up. 

I really enjoyed this inventive tale; it was a bit of an escape for me compared to a lot of my usual reading, with some creepy and macabre elements that added to the darker feel of the tale, though they could be a bit scary for some easily frightened young readers. The Archer brothers made for intriguing baddies and I like the depiction of them on the book's cover. Violet is a plucky heroine who gets fully involved in plenty of escapades and I think children of around her age will enjoy escaping into this mysterious adventure.

Source - author review copy

Self-published - available in paperback and as an ebook
Visit the author's website here and find her on twitter here
Views of other bloggers - Lovely Treez Reads | Random Things |


  1. Hi Lindsay,

    I have been known to read the odd YA or children's book now and again, in fact my current book is an author review request of a YA story.

    I find the maturity of both writing style and storylines for this age group in particular, is so good as to be almost indistinguishable from that in books aimed at the adult marketplace.

    I like the sound of 'A Place Called Perfect' and it would be so good if such a place could really exist ... my name would be at the top of the list!

    Like yourself, I love the cover art for the book, so I checked out Helena's site and can gauge exactly how adept she is at providing. both artwork and storylines for her chosen genre and exactly why her work is so successful, it looks great!

    Thanks for providing such a considered review and have a great week.


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  3. I just reviewed this Lynz, I quite liked it too, took me back to my reading types as a kid. I raced through it in one day :D



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