Splendors and Glooms: A Book Review


Splendors and Glooms

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

Summary: The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late.

{kindly taken from Amazon}

My Thoughts: A few years ago {2007?}, Laura Amy Schlitz wrote the awesome play Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, which I not only adored, it also won an award! Clearly, this author has a lot of talent, and I was excited to read her newest book that came out over the summer, Splendors and Glooms. I love dark, historical fiction mysteries, so this seemed right up my alley.

Right away, Schlitz introduces us to our five main characters: Lizzie Rose, Parsefall, Clara, Grisini, and a witch named Cassandra, all of which play a crucial role in the story. Some were more developed than others, like Cassandra, whose back stories I enjoyed read a lot, but ones, like Grisini, I wanted to know a little bit more of. The children, however, were really well-developed, and I was surprised at how much information the author included without interrupting the flow of the story. My favorite would have to be Clara, for I loved her innocence and her willingness to help. I also loved one of the supporting characters, Dr. Wintermute, Clara’s dad, because you could really tell that he was a good dad :) I love finding good parents in stories, because more often than not, the parental figures are usually absent.

The plot of this story moved very slowly, and that is really my only complaint. I’m not sure if it was just me {as in it didn’t interest me enough} or that the middle was entertaining. No idea. I do think though that there was a little *too* much description. I’m all for a descriptive paragraph when needed, but I felt like in this case, it was overloading the story.

Overall, this was a solid historical fiction, and I think advanced readers will find interest in it.

*If you like this book, I also recommend The Undrowned Child!

Pros: Good character development and really good imagery.

Cons: The plot moved slowly.

Heads Up: Violence, for the most part, and some minor language.

Overall: I give it 3 stars {***} and I recommend it for 11 and up.

Have a good night watching Glee! :)

Psst. Today’s holiday bloggerare the girls at Fernweh! They have been writing up some lovely posts lately, but my favorite is this one describing Christmas magic.


4 thoughts on “Splendors and Glooms: A Book Review

  1. […] The fall calls for a good historical fiction to read under a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate in hand! There are a handful of novels I’m anxious to read in the coming months, not in the least Laura Amy Schlitz’s The Hired Girl. Schlitz, who won the Newbery Medal for her play, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, is known for her accurate historical settings and dynamic characters, so I’m excited to grab her latest release. {review} […]


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