A Place Called Perfect
By Helena Duggan
Published by Usborne
ISBN 978 1 4749 2416 0
If your parents suddenly announced that you were packing up and moving to a town called “Perfect”, you might hear a few alarm bells ringing. Violet Brown has no desire to move house, thank you very much. But her optician father has been offered a good job in Perfect, so she has no choice.
Helena Duggan’s debut novel A Place Called Perfect is a great read for anyone who enjoys quirky, imaginative stories.
One look at the book’s cover and you know you’re in for something different. Duggan is a graphic designer, and it certainly shows in this smart, intriguing and imaginative story. Welcome to Perfect – a place where something very weird is going on.
As soon as she sets foot in the town, Violet knows that things aren’t quite right. Everything is neat and tidy and there isn’t a speck of dust anywhere to be seen. Clothes are completely uncreased and hair is unruffled.
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Ordinary people don’t walk around looking happy all the time, with wide smiles on their faces, but they do in Perfect. Even the flowers grow in perfect rows in the gardens. It all seems to good to be true, and Violet is immediately suspicious.
There’s also one very disturbing change that happens in the town whenever newcomers like the Browns arrive: people must start wearing special glasses to prevent them going blind.
These glasses are supplied by the Archer Brothers’ Spectacle Emporium run by Edward and George Archer, who welcome their newest optician Mr Brown to the town with open arms. Violet’s father has been brought to Perfect for a reason, and Violet is determined to discover what this is.
Things get even more mysterious when Violet goes to the local school. She is told straight away that she suffers from “Irritable, Dysfunctional, Disobedient Child Syndrome’, and given medication to keep her quiet, unquestioning and obedient.
The mystery deepens when her mother’s personality changes and she starts to act like a robot mother with no feelings. How can Violet get to the root of what is really going on in Perfect?
A Place Called Perfect is an impressive and original debut from Duggan, whose background in graphic design serves her story very well. The pages fly by – a visual, exciting and creepy treat. With nods to Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and the films of Tim Burton, this is a book to savour.
John Millen can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org