The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski is perhaps not itself a "wonder" (that sort of praise is a bit too breathlessly over the top), but it comes close enough to deserve an enthusiastic recommendation and a preeminent place on any child's shelf. Start with several appealing and richly drawn characters; add an inventive mix of history, folk tales, and the author's own plotting; toss in an original blend of various magics and technologies, sprinkle a few grim moments about and several more whimsical ones; add one villain who both charms and chills, and a possible ally who mostly just chills; and top it all off with an intelligent mechanical spider and what you get is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
The Cabinet of Wonders is set near the end of the 16th century in quasi-historical Prague, capital of Bohemia and home to its ru... Read More
Marie RutkoskiMarie Rutkoski received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Ms. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat. The Cabinet of Wonders is her debut novel. Learn more at Marie Rutkoski’s website.
The Kronos Chronicles — (2008-2011) Ages 9-12. Publisher: 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 startling debut novel, about the risks we take to protect those we love, brims with magic, political intrigue, and heroism.
The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
The Celestial Globe by Marie Rutkoski
The Celestial Globe is the second book in Marie Rutkoski’s Kronos Chronicles, following last year’s Cabinet of Wonders, which was a wonderful start with strong characterization, a creative mix of 16th century history and folk tales in service of a compelling plot, and a wonderful sense of both light and grim whimsy. The Celestial Globe isn’t as strong, but it’s a rewarding read in its own right and more than fulfills the purpose of a second book: convincing the reader to stay with the series.
The young girl Petra is back as the central character, along with her several compatriots: a mechanical spider named Astrophil, a young Roma named Neel whose magical gift is “ghost fingers” that invisibly extend his reach, and her long-t... Read More
The Jewel of the Kalderash by Marie Rutkoski
The Jewel of the Kalderash is the third and final book in the children's historical fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles by Marie Rutkoski. The first, The Cabinet of Wonders, was excellent (I gave it a strong 4 in my review) and while the second book, The Celestial Globe, wasn’t quite as good, that was mostly due to Cabinet being so strong. The Jewel of the Kalderash, like its predecessor, doesn’t quite reach the quality of The Cabinet of Wonders, but it is quite good — certainly better than much of what I see — and makes for a wholly satisfactory close to the trilogy.
In this final volume, the villainous Prince Rodolfo is quickly and seemingly inevitably moving toward becoming Emperor and cementi... Read More
The Shadow Society — (2012) Publisher: Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere — but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population. Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her. As if she were his enemy. When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything — not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever… In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.
Jacks and Queens at the Green Mill — (2012) Publisher: Few know that the Great Chicago Fire was started deliberately, as a genocide of deadly creatures called Shades. Fewer still know that they didn’t die, not quite… but one human will confront the truth when an ominous beauty makes him gamble for his life.