The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, Gabriella Metelits A.2

The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, is a slightly bleak coming of age novel set in the Victorian England era. The plot centers on Johnnie Mellamphy, a young boy who matures into a man in London while enduring the hardships of extreme poverty and the fear of being killed. You see, his true identity is John Huffam, heir to one of the largest estates in England. A rigged game of Hazard long ago placed the property in the hands of the Mompessons, who were distant relatives, but the accidental exposure of a will replaced the estate to the Huffams. The only problem is a different family: the Clothiers. They are next in line to inherit the property—but only once the Huffam line has died out…
In my opinion, The Quincunx deserves a 9.5. It didn’t score a perfect ten because of the ending. I would have preferred a happier ending that justified Johnnie’s struggle. I did like one of Palliser’s literary devices, point of view. Mostly the novel is narrated by Johnnie but there are times when we “visit” other characters and settings and are guided by a 3rd person omniscient narrator. That experience made The Quincunx different than your average book.
The Quincunx is also unique because it’s a puzzle. There are clues everywhere (if you pay close attention) to put together and solve. If you like mysteries, but are tired of reading something conventional, this is a great book for you!

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