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A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan

In this era of Post-Truth and Fake News it is interesting to find novels for children who will be asking questions about the many kinds of faked veracity and concealed deception we seem to encounter every day in the real world.

Perfect is a town where nothing goes wrong, everything is in apple-pie order and no questions are asked. So a little bit Stepford, a little bit North Korea, but without the hairspray and missiles. When Violet Brown comes to live there with her parents they are given the complimentary tea and an appointment at the opticians. The tea is delicious and the spectacles are complimentary, so everybody in town wears them. And everyone seems to do what the curiously cuboid Archer brothers say.

All is not quite as it seems, however, as Violet can hear footsteps in her bedroom at night though nobody is there. When her father disappears, she sets out with the help of the un-named Boy and uncovers secret passages, tunnels and the nature of the hollowing. Just what are the mysterious Watchers hiding? Will the town of Perfect ever be Adequate again?

This is a delicious mystery that put me in mind of Trenton Lee Stewart’s Secret Keepers and deserves to be devoured by fans of Lemony Snicket and Pseudonomous Bosch, with some of the Archer Brothers famous tea.

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