Sunday, July 9, 2017

Review: Cabinet of Wonders

Cabinet of Wonders (Kronos Chronicles #1)
Marie Rutkoski
middle grade historical fantasy

Petra Kronos has a simple, happy life. But it’s never been ordinary. She has a pet tin spider named Astrophil who likes to hide in her snarled hair and give her advice. Her best friend can trap lightning inside a glass sphere. Petra also has a father in faraway Prague who is able to move metal with his mind. He has been commissioned by the prince of Bohemia to build the world’s finest astronomical clock.
Petra’s life is forever changed when, one day, her father returns home—blind. The prince has stolen his eyes, enchanted them, and now wears them. But why? Petra doesn’t know, but she knows this: she will go to Prague, sneak into Salamander Castle, and steal her father’s eyes back.
Joining forces with Neel, whose fingers extend into invisible ghosts that pick locks and pockets, Petra finds that many people in the castle are not what they seem, and that her father’s clock has powers capable of destroying their world.

This book didn't look like much at first, but like all quality fantastic middle grade fiction, it quickly sucked me in. Set in 16th century Bohemia, the environment is already special and exciting. Also, the fantasy is unique. No vamps, wolves, angels and demons - introducing metal come to life. Artisans like glassblowers and metalworkers who have magic they add to their craft. It's different and artsy! I loved it. 

As for the characters- I liked Petra. For once, a MC who herself is not very magical (though around her everyone is) but relies on her bravery and wits to get the job done. About her decisions - they are very childish. I couldn't tell if this is a character flaw or something that exists in all children's fiction that I'm only aware of now (haven't read any new middle grade stuff in a long time). Let me know what you think. However, she does understand her mistake in the end after her father's anger... 

It's actually kind of nice to read about a 12-year-old acting like a 12-year-old and being reprimanded by her father. 

The supporting characters are also pretty cool. Includes some history on gypsies - or Romani, as they prefer to be called. Tomik/Neel could be a potential love triangle should the series progress until they're older. I'd like to meet more Tomik - a super talented boy, the-best-friend-all-Petra's-life character. I feel like there is so much more of him to enjoy that we didn't get. 

All in all, great book in and of itself, and also great introduction to a series (you can stop here, though. Pretty much ties itself up with the option to continue) if you can overlook Petra taking the adventure as a not-entirely-necessary risk.  

Have a wonderful beginning of summer!

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