Alexandra Bracken explores demons, curses, and growing up in THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING!
I really enjoyed reading Alexandra Bracken’s previous Young Adult novels, so I was excited when I heard about The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding. Since I don’t read a ton of Middle Grade anymore, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I decided to give it a try out of curiosity.
The novel revolves around middle school student named Prosper Redding whose usually fun Founder’s Day Festival takes an unfortunate turn when he discovers his family’s curse and realizes that he has a demon known as a malefactor inside of him. If having a malefactor inside of you wasn’t already the worst, he also has to somehow get rid of it before his 13th birthday– which is just around the corner– or else the demon will overpower him and he’ll die. Things become even messier when the demon, Alastor, realizes that someone has betrayed him and things are turning chaotic in his world, the Downside, because of the new demon on the throne. Together, Prosper and Alastor have to figure out what is going on and who they can trust before time runs out for the both of them.
Fair warning, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is a Middle Grade novel after all, so it does read very much like one. Sometimes middle grade novels can also have a YA type of voice, but The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is clearly Middle Grade, and Bracken does a good job of hitting her target audience. It has a lot of juvenile humor which works very well in this category, but I do think it’s a bit overdone at times.
The beginning of the book starts off a bit slow, but it definitely picks up toward the middle, although overall, it wasn’t a super fast read. I felt like the plot wasn’t spectacularly unique, maybe because I read a lot of fantasy so reading about demons wasn’t anything new. However, the mystery surrounding the events in the Downside and the characters’ struggles kept me engaged. Things definitely became more exciting at the end when the plot twists and big reveals occurred. Some of the reveals were a bit predictable, but others were unexpected which was a nice surprise. One thing I liked in particular was the magical creatures that were included such as the hob, howler, fae, and ogres. I also thought that the modern day setting was interesting because a lot fantasy books take place in different time periods and places, so I liked how Prosper was dealing with all of this on top of facing mundane things like going to school and trying to make friends.
The POV does switch around as well, but sporadically rather than alternating between every other chapter. The scenes told in Alastor’s POV were some of my favorites because it added a lot more to the plot. His own adventures also provided more description about the Downside and brought more depth to his character since we were able to hear his thoughts. There’s a lot of snooping around and action on Alastor’s part which I really enjoyed!
In terms of characters, I think they had good development overall. At first, Nell seemed pretty flat/cut-out, but I was pleasantly surprised by her change in personality and her decisions near the end of the novel. Out of all of the characters, Alastor is actually my favorite. I think we naturally hate villains, but Alastor was really likable and I just couldn’t help but root for him. I did like Prosper as a character, but he wasn’t super interesting, to be honest. I do give him props for having had his head on pretty straight despite being a host for a demon. It was refreshing to see him be able to adapt to this newfound discovery rather than panic. I enjoyed Alastor and Prosper’s relationship and watching them attempt to coexist with each other for the time being. I definitely look forward to seeing how the two will get along in the second novel.
Overall, The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is a really fun novel. It has a good balance of humor, action, and magic. Halloween is around the corner, and I definitely think it has that sort of Fall feel to it. I definitely recommend Dreadful Tale to fans of middle grade and young readers.
RATING: 3.75 OUT OF 5 STARS
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding is out now! You can order it via Amazon.
“I would say it’s a pleasure to meet thee, Prosperity Oceanus Redding, but truly, I only anticipate the delights of destroying thy happiness.”
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