In “The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Byrony Gray,” by E. Latimer, Byrony is a prodigy, and famous throughout London for her amazingly lifelike portraits. Life for Bryony isn’t so grand, however. Her aunt and uncle are more of her jailers than guardians, and she doesn’t like the people she paints. When her paintings start coming to life and her clients start disappearing, it is up to Bryony to get out of the attic she has been locked up in and unravel the mystery her father, Dorian, left behind. The London of the past can be a scary place, especially when you have been locked up in a room for years. Bryony enlists the help of the adventurous girl next door and her paranoid brother to try to find her mysterious patron and enlist their help, but things don’t go as planned. What did Dorian Gray do that put Bryony’s paintings to such malevolence? Does Bryony even have the power to stop the paintings?
I would recommend this book for people 13 and older, as it can be confusing at times and uses difficult vocabulary. Also, aspects of horror in the book might scare younger readers. This is a book that keep you in suspense until the very end, as there is always a new question that needs to be answered. If you are a reader that likes to always know what is happening, this book probably isn’t for you. Most of the time, even the characters don’t understand what’s going on.I feel like the main characters were hard to relate to, because each one has an extreme personality that no one in real life would actually have.
If you have read “The Painting of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, this book directly ties into that one. In fact, the main character of “The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray” is Dorian Gray’s daughter. I find it really intriguing how the different stories are woven together, and how E. Latimer is able to build off Oscar Wilde’s ideas to create a story that is interesting in the same way but has a completely different plot.
This story really embodies a spirit of independence, and the underlying message teaches people that they are special and powerful even without anybody supporting them. E. Latimer does a good job of making it sound like the novel was written in eighteenth century London.