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The Cabinet of Wonders: The Kronos Chronicles: Book I Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 5, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Kronos Chronicles Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Add this heady mix of history and enchantment to the season's list of astonishingly accomplished first novels: in Rutkoski's multilayered version of late�16th-century Bohemia, magicians coexist with peasants and courtiers, a tribe of gypsies use specially endowed �ghost� fingers, and the fate of Europe hangs on the schemes of an evil prince. As the novel opens, a metalworker with extraordinary gifts has returned from Prince Rodolfo's palace in Prague, having finished his commission to build a magical clock�but the prince has gouged out his eyes, so that he can never duplicate the clock or, worse, better it. Even more disturbingly, the prince wears the eyes himself. Vowing to recover her father's eyes, 12-year-old Petra sneaks off to Prague, with little more than the company of Astrophil, an erudite tin spider who can communicate with her. Proving herself a worthy relative of, say, Philip Pullman's quick-thinking, fearless heroines, Petra navigates her way past sorceress countesses, English spy magicians, dangerous gypsies and through bewitched palace halls until Rodolfo, wearing the ill-gotten eyes, catches sight of her. Infusions of folklore (and Rutkoski's embellishments of them) don't slow the fast plot but more deeply entrance readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—Set in an altered European Renaissance, this book succeeds in creating an interesting new fantasy world. Twelve-year-old Petra Kronos is shocked when her father is returned to their village without his eyes. The young Prince of Bohemia had commissioned Mikhail Kronos, who has a magical gift with metal and machines, to create a magnificent clock. Before its completion, however, the prince had the artisan's eyes removed, hoping to use their magical qualities, along with the clock, to gain control of the Hapsburg Empire and possibly the world. Petra, along with her well-read tin spider, Astrophil, sneaks off to Prague in order to get the eyes back. With help from a Roma boy, Neel, and his sister, Petra gets a job at the castle and is one step closer to retrieving her father's eyes and preventing the prince from misusing the clock's power. Her adventures also lead her to discover more of her own abilities, magical and otherwise. The novel is well paced and contains a number of intriguing characters. This is a solid fantasy that finishes its story but leaves the door open for further episodes. An author's note explains the historical basis for certain aspects of the book, including the Roma, the prince's cabinet of wonders, and John Dee, advisor to Queen Elizabeth. For those who like their fantasy with a splash of history, or their history with a twist of magic, this book is ideal.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Series: Kronos Chronicles (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374310262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374310264
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,396,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It seems to me that today's average everyday fantasy author for kids has to walk a delicate line. You want to create an alternative history novel laden with magical elements? Fair enough. Here is the choice set before you. Nine times out of ten books of this sort, whether they're of the steampunk variety or the more common knights + wizardry type stuff, are written for kids thirteen and up. Think about it. The King of Attolia books, Philip Reeve's Larklight series, Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy), and so on and such. All of these are mature books for mature readers. They deal with large themes, long complicated plots, and dark motivations. So do you skew your book older or younger? Really, when you sit down and think about it, Marie Rutkoski's new series The Kronos Chronicles is a rare beastie. In her first installment "The Cabinet of Wonders", Rutkoski opts for the younger end of the spectrum, combining just the right mix of kid fantasy within a well-planned historical setting. I'm as tired of new otherworldly series as the rest of you, but Rutkoski's new world is crisp and smart enough to win over even the most jaded fantasy fan.

When they brought her father home with bloody bandages over his eyes, that's when Petra Kronos got good and mad. Her father was given a remarkable commission: construct a clock for the prince himself in Prague.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Cabinet of Wonders 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 YA 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 book is set near the end of the 16th century in quasi-historical Prague, capital of Bohemia and home to its ruler, young Prince Rodolpho, one of three sons to the Hapsburg emperor. Rodolpho has recently commissioned the construction of a wondrous astronomical clock for Prague and the book opens up with the return home of the clock's builder--Mikal Kronos. This is one of those aforementioned grim moments, for Mikal's "reward" for completing the clock was having his eyes removed, ostensibly so he could never build anything so wondrous again, leaving the Prince with a one-of-a-kind marvel.
Mikal is welcomed home by his 12-year-old daughter Petra, who is of course horrified and furious at the Prince's action. Even more so when she learns that at the Prince's behest, Mikal (who like many in this world has a unique magical talent) has imbued the clock with powers well beyond simply telling time, powers that will be fully realized once the Prince manages to assemble the one part Mikal left undone.
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Format: Hardcover
This book begins starkly with two men who are bringing an injured clockmaker home to his family. Mikal Kronos's hurts are deliberate, his silver eyes torn out by the prince for whom he has made a great and magical clock. His only apparent thanks is his life. The deliverymen wonder whether Mikal's sons will seek revenge, but relax when they see that the clockmaker has only one child, a twelve-year-old daughter. A discerning reader will immediately surmise that Petra Kronos WILL seek revenge--or at least, that she will set out on a dangerous quest to recover her father's eyes.

Author Marie Rutkoski starts with the city of Prague at the end of the sixteenth century, then adds a rich mix of magic. As if that weren't tricky enough to pull off, she goes on to mix the magic with technology. For example, in European fairy tale tradition, heroes running from enemies sometimes fling down magical combs and mirrors which turn into forests and lakes to block or at least slow the pursuit. In this book, an apprentice craftsman who is one of Petra's friends has trapped water and fire and even a wasp inside of small glass bubbles. The spells multiply their contents when thrown, creating a thoroughly satisfying effect during the key chase scene.

Petra's father has also invented a menagerie of mechanized magical animals--one of whom, a spider, accompanies Petra wherever she goes, offering counsel as well as companionship.

There are hints of adventures to come in the Kronos chronicles. We learn that Petra may someday attend the magic academy usually reserved for the children of nobility. In Rutkoski's Bohemia, the lower classes are not allowed to use magic, or at least not openly.
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