Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood


H. P. Wood is the granddaughter of a mad inventor and a sideshow magician. Instead of making things disappear, she makes books of all shapes and sizes. She has written or edited works on an array of topics, including the history of the Internet, the future of human rights, and the total awesomeness of playing with sticks. She lives in Connecticut with a charming and patient husband, a daughter from whom she steals all her best ideas, and more cats than is strictly logical.
May 1904. Coney Island’s newest amusement park, Dreamland, has just opened. Its many spectacles are expected to attract crowds by the thousands, paying back investors many times over.

Kitty Hayward and her mother arrive by steamer from South Africa. When Kitty’s mother takes ill, the hotel doctor sends Kitty to Manhattan to fetch some special medicine. But when she returns, Kitty’s mother has vanished. The desk clerk tells Kitty she is at the wrong hotel. The doctor says he’s never seen her although, she notices, he is unable to look her in the eye.

Alone in a strange country, Kitty meets the denizens of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. A relic of a darker, dirtier era, Magruder's is home to a forlorn flea circus, a handful of disgruntled Unusuals, and a mad Uzbek scientist. Magruder’s Unusuals take Kitty under their wing and resolve to find out what happened to her mother.

But as a plague spreads, Coney Island is placed under quarantine. The gang at Magruder’s finds that a missing mother is the least of their problems, as the once-glamorous resort town is abandoned to the freaks, anarchists, and madmen.
Apparently I am on a carnival strike... well, I am absolutely loving it, so shush! This book, dear readers, this book is better than chocolate cake and morning black coffee, it is more exciting than a journey with a  hobbit and more rewarding than a bowl of ice cream on a hot summers day. It is epic in its wording and humble in its presentation. I am absolutely smitten.
The characters are strong humans, who struggle with discrimination, gender roles, family issues and inability to find hope in the next day. They are marvellously developed and become idols,  if you allow me to call them such. The lessons you learn from them, will come in handy some day, you just sit back and wait.
It is the best piece on equality an acceptance that you can come across. A wonderful story of embracing individuality and accepting people for being different and the same in one breath. I know it is not YA novel, but I wish more kids would read it, so they would understand that subjects like the ones discussed in the book are serious and have tremendous influence on others.
The intertwining science and magic, make the read even more enjoyable... I do agree that this was probably the most magical era to live in anyway, but they way it was transmitted through the novel is enchanting. It is like reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon, just different. This is a read that definitely melts in your mouth and lingers for a lot longer that you'd generally expect it to.