Review: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding

DToPR coverTitle: The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding: A Fiendish Arrangement

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Series: #1 in the Prosper Redding series

Genre: Middle Grade, urban fantasy

Format: eARC via Netgalley

Release Date: September 5th, 2017

Synopsis: Prosper is the only unexceptional Redding in his old and storied family history — that is, until he discovers the demon living inside him. Turns out Prosper’s great-great-great-great-great-something grandfather made — and then broke — a contract with a malefactor, a demon who exchanges fortune for eternal servitude. And, weirdly enough, four-thousand-year-old Alastor isn’t exactly the forgiving type. 
The fiend has reawakened with one purpose — to destroy the family whose success he ensured and who then betrayed him. With only days to break the curse and banish Alastor back to the demon realm, Prosper is playing unwilling host to the fiend, who delights in tormenting him with nasty insults and constant attempts trick him into a contract. Yeah, Prosper will take his future without a side of eternal servitude, thanks.
Little does Prosper know, the malefactor’s control over his body grows stronger with each passing night, and there’s a lot Alastor isn’t telling his dim-witted (but admittedly strong-willed) human host. 
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history? Or will Prosper and Alastor be doomed to repeat it?

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Wow, it’s been a long time since I read a middle grade book. But man did I miss it! From the first sarcastic line of The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, I immediately got nostalgic for Percy Jackson and my other old favorites. This book is so cute and laugh-out-loud funny, it was exactly what I needed during my stressful return to high school.

TDTOPR (I’ll be using this acronym since it’s quite a long title, if you haven’t noticed) is one of those happy books that just filled my heart with warmth and fluffiness as I read it. But, ironically, this book is also completely about demons and ghosts and witches and scary magic spells involving mirrors and candlelight. So, I’m not sure if that says more about me than it does the book, but I still found it to be relaxing and refreshing from the drama-filled YA genre.

Speaking of witches and ghosts, if you’re looking for a fun read for the fall season, TDTOPR is exactly what you want! I closed this book dying for a slice of pumpkin pie while sitting on a New England park bench, a crisp breeze blowing orange and yellow leaves through the air. Or course, I live in Florida and it’s only September 4th, so that was a bit of a cruel joke. My unfortunate climactic circumstances aside, this book has all of those things, along with plenty of Halloween trickery!

Prosper as a character is very relatable, as a kid I experienced many of the same feelings and social pressures in middle school. His narration is witty and sharp, never too confident or too insecure. A few times, however, we get to see through Alastor’s eyes, and those chapters had to be some of my absolute favorites. He’s definitely not your typical villian, hell-bent on revenge against the Reddings, but easily confused by 21st century ways of speaking. The contradictions and comparisons that Alex makes between Alastor and Prosper provide for many humorous moments, as well as some difficult ones.

Another element of the book that I didn’t expect to see much of, but ended up coming out in full force, was MAGIC! As a self-diagnosed fantasy addict, I loved the unique layers of world-building and the magic system that Alex wove through the story. It definitely kept the plot moving and kept me guessing. I do wish that the ending had been more surprising, but overall there’s not much I would change.

As a result, TDTOPR is an interesting mix of genres, with a middle grade tone and highlights of urban fantasy, beautifully set against a historical town steeped in rich – and dangerous – family folklore. If you’re a regular YA reader that rarely strays from the genre (like myself), I encourage you to give this book a shot! I loved being reintroduced to middle grade, and can’t wait for the next installment in this peculiar adventure.

4 Stars

Have you read The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding? What are some of your favorite middle grade novels? Are any of you also really for fall?

Thanks to Disney Hyperion and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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