Monday, July 21, 2008

Cabinet of Wonders

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
The Kronos Chronicles: Book 1
ISBN# 978-0-374-31026-4
Available August 5, 2008
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) /Macmillan

Format: Hardcover, 258 pages
Genres: young adult (YA), fiction, fantasy

It’s a little hard to believe that this brilliant story comes from a first time author, but it’s a little easier to accept once you know that this first time author is also a professor of english literature. The good news for me, and all of her soon-to-be ravenous fans once the book comes out, is that Rutkoski is already hard at work on book two of The Kronos Chronicles. There’s only one little thing that bothers me about this book, it’s recommended for ages 10+. Parents, use your own judgment because there is some subject matter in this book that even made me a little queasy and it’s not because it’s gory or even all that graphic, it’s just the imagery and thoughts that come with someone being able to wear someone else’s eyes and then changing them out for their own whenever they want. Some kids will no doubt think it’s cool while others’ might have nightmares. To read an excerpt or learn more about this author visit her here.

I loved Petra and her tin spider, Astrophil, almost immediately. I know Petra’s the main character, but Astrophil kind of steals the show for me after we find out he’s an insomniac who spends his nights reading anything he can find. I love that Petra turns out to be a pretty stable character despite her background of basically raising herself and doing as she pleases because her father is always working on his next invention. So many authors would have turned her into a spoiled brat or a stubborn mule. She is pretty stubborn, but she’s never stupid about it, if it sounds reasonable she’ll listen. I also like her confidence, she doesn’t back down just because her choices and decisions are hard or not the choices other people would make.

Petra’s father has a magical affinity with metals and so he is hired by the prince to make a mysterious clock. His return, however, is no cause for celebration for the prince was so taken with how her father must see the world that he had his eyes removed and spelled so that he could wear them and see the world that way too. Petra knows that her father needs his eyes in order to make his inventions so she starts planning to go to Prague and steal them back. Once she gets there she finds that her plan may be impossible since even when she does get a job at the castle she still isn’t allowed anywhere near the prince’s rooms. Once she learns the true power of the clock and that the prince is close to making it work she realizes her father’s eyes may not be her biggest concern.

This book was a quick read, but at the same time fully immersing you in Petra’s world and her life. The world that Rutkoski has created is lush, the characters are very real with specific identities (although we haven’t gotten into the prince’s head yet), and the prose used to describe it all is wonderful. If you’re interested in seeing the clock that gave her the idea for this story there’s pictures and information here: Prague Astronomical Clock. If you’re looking for a new series or new world to get caught up in definitely give this book a try.


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