Prepare to meet a bizarre assortment of people. History blends with science fiction and fantasy in this story that will keep you engrossed. Once you start this book, you won’t be able to put it down until you reach the last page.
Kelly Hayward and her mom have traveled to Coney Island, New York from England to visit the new Dreamland amusement park, but things don’t go as planned. Her mom disappears, and Kelly finds herself alone with nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
Kelly fears that something bad has happened. Scared, she just sits on a park bench. While there, she meets a man who introduces her to the strangest group of people she has ever met. They are part of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet.
Zeph might be missing his legs, but that doesn’t stop him from getting where he wants to go. P-Ray is the flea catcher and flea tamer in charge of the flea circus. Rosalind’s appearance startles Kelly at first. But this half-man, half-woman turns out to be a great friend as do the other inhabitants of Magruder’s. Of course, there is also a lion tamer, a strong man, and many others. They call themselves the Unusuals. Kelly might not be able to find her mother, but she is not without friends in this strange new land.
When the plague strikes, all hell breaks loose around Coney Island.They are bombarded by all of the Unusuals from other places seeking shelter and a cure. Fleas carry the plague, so when someone tells the wrong person about P-Ray’s stash of fleas, Magruder’s is in danger of being burned.
I saw this as a story of near misses and true friendship during times of danger. Kitty’s visit to Dreamland did not turn out as she thought it would, but she has found friends who will stick with her when times get rough. Will she and her new friends escape the plague? Will they escape the ones who are chasing after them?
I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to get lost in Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, I have provided an Amazon link below.
Amazon Link: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet
His rotting feet force him to limp and shuffle, determined and yet aimless, pushing forward on some vital errand he can no longer remember.
Zeph’s abbreviated body swings beneath him and then angles outward as he dives deep into one of the shelves.
The white alligator glistens in the half-light, its mouth stretched wide, its razor teeth dripping with blood.
Finally, lurking like a vulture waiting for the lions to finish their dinner, a scarred and scowling fellow with only one arm arrives.
A flock of overdressed churchy types cower by the undertaker like frightened chickens around a rooster.
New Words Learned:
bereft – deprived
bloviating – speaking pompously.
bubo – an inflammatory swelling of a lymphatic gland, especially in the groin or armpit.
calliope – Also called a steam organ. a calliope is a musical instrument consisting of a set of harsh-sounding steam whistles that are activated by a keyboard.
dauphin – the title of the direct heir to the French throne; the eldest son of the king of France
fishwife – a coarse-mannered, vulgar-tongued woman
French cuff – a double cuff formed by a backward fold of the material
hausfrau – a housewife
howdah – a seat or platform for one or more persons, commonly with a railing and a canopy, placed on the back of an elephant.
kinetoscope – an early motion-picture device, invented by Edison, in which the film passed behind a peephole for viewing by a single viewer
knish – a fried or baked turnover or roll of dough with a filling, as of meat, kasha, or potato, often eaten as an appetizer or snack
mansard – a roof having two slopes on both sides and both ends, the lower slopes being steeper than the upper
mummichog – a silver and black killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus, found in fresh, brackish, and salt water along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.
naphtha – a flammable oil containing various hydrocarbons, obtained by the dry distillation of organic substances such as coal, shale, or petroleum
obsequiousness – servile complaisance or deference
obstreperous – resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly
phalanx – any body of troops in close array.
samovar – a metal urn, used especially by Russians for heating water for making tea
strut-noddy – an arrogant fool with no idea of their own stupidity
tchotchke – an inexpensive souvenir, trinket, or ornament
truncheon – the club carried by a police officer; billy
unflappable – not easily upset or confused, especially in a crisis; imperturbable.
voluble – characterized by a ready and continuous flow of words; fluent; glib; talkative
About the Author:
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 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. You can find her at hpwood.net.