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The Cabinet of Wonders: The Kronos Chronicles: Book I Paperback – January 8, 2013
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“...a sweet and charming fantasy, perfect for fans of ELLA ENCHANTED or THE PRINCESS ACADEMY.... Lorelei King is a talented narrator whose superb creation of whimsical characters is beautifully done.” ―AudioFile, Winner of an Earphones Award
“In this utterly engrossing book, Marie Rutkoski combines sixteenth century European history with magic-rich fantasy to create a story that readers will find irresistible.” ―Through The Looking Glass Children's Book Review
"Readers . . . who enjoy literary fantasy are likely to savor Marie Rutkoski's debut novel, which was inspired by the grisly legend associated with the famous astronomical clock in Prague's Old Town Square.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“Like Phillip Pullman's young Lyra, [Petra] matures in worlds more complex than she had imagined.” ―The Chicago Tribune
“Add this heady mix of history and enchantment to the season's list of astonishingly accomplished first novels. . . . [Petra] proves herself a worthy relative of, say Philip Pullman's quick-thinking, fearless heroines. . . Infusions of folklore don't slow down the fast plot but more deeply entrance readers.” ―Starred, Publishers Weekly
“Loved this book. Strong girl character. Fascinating alternate Bohemia world. Clever silhouette cover.” ―BOUND, MSN Entertainment Book Blog
“For those who like their fantasy with a splash of history, or their history with a twist of magic, this book is ideal.” ―School Library Journal
“Fresh and fortuitous.” ―The Horn Book
“Rutkoski poses searching questions about perception and judgment, and plants plenty of seeds for future installments, but this first novel of adventure, loyalty and familial love (not to mention magic) wraps up quite satisfyingly.” ―Shelf Awareness
“The Cabinet of Wonders is just that--a book to get lost in, to be amazed and astonished by, to explore with curiosity and delight.” ―Books & Books, Miami, Florida
“Rutkoski's fantasy features quirky characters, imaginative world building, and a hint of trouble to come that will create demand for the next book in the planned Kronos Chronicles series.” ―Booklist
“Though Rutkoski wraps up her magical tale beautifully, her lovable cast and intriguing scenarios are certain to bring readers back for a second round in The Kronos Chronicles.” ―BookPage
“Rutkoski effectively uses the romance of the region and the mystique of gypsy legends to evoke an atmosphere of danger and adventure. Her well-crafted fantasy world is a mix of magic and technology . . . that, along with the thoroughly likeable characters, will quickly draw readers in and have them eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series.” ―Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books
“It was like a mix of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.” ―A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader
About the Author
Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat.
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The story has interesting characters peopling a fascinating world. The setting mixes history, fantasy, steampunk, and adventure. The villain is truly chilling. The magic, innovative. The secondary characters are unforgettable.
Some readers may be put off by the slightly open ending. While the current adventure does conclude, there is still a bigger plot line yet to be solved, making way for the rest of the series. Far from leaving me unsatisfied, this book left me wanting more.
Although the book is about a girl, the boys in my household were captivated and never felt this book was "too girly." They loved the mix of technology and magic set in a less industrialized society.
I have read this book before and so was disappointed the narrator did not do the story justice. Her voices were caricatured and slightly annoying which kept pulling me out of the story. The narrator also had such a juvenile tone, that she turned off the older kids in my household.
If this is the only copy of the book you can get, get it anyway, but it's better in print.
Petra is the twelve year old daughter of Mikal Kronos who is a master artisan of tin. He infuses magic in his works which make them extra special. He made a tin spider for Petra who she calls Astrophil. He talks and reads and is intelligent. He is her constant companion. Of course, Astrophil is infused with magic which makes him so delightful. All of Mikal's animals are of special value because they are imbued with his special magic.
Now the Prince of Bohemia comissioned Mikal Kronos to make a clock for him, a very special clock that will be infused with more than a touch of magic and will be able to do much more than just tell the time of day. He finishes his masterpiece after three months in Prague and is sent back to his home in Okno.
Petra is there to receive her father but is agast at what she sees. Her father's eyes are bandaged and his is weak and can hardle move. It seems that the Prince ordered his surgeon to remove Mikal's eyes before releasing him; supposedly to prevent him from fashioning another clock just like the one he crafted for the Prince.
Petra is so sad at seeing her father with no eyes. His eyes were especially beautiful. They were a silver color and her eyes are exactly the same color. Petra goes from being sad to being very angry and starts thinking of a way to recover his eyes that were stolen from him. She always has been very close to her father as her mother died giving birth to her.
Petra has a good friend, Tomik, who is to become involved in her plans to regain possession of her father's eyes. Tomik is helping her by making some spheres, magical spheres, that will enable her to achieve her goal. Of course her father knows nothing about all of this and he must not know anything as he is sure to disapprove of any action on the part of his daughter.
From this point on Petra channels all of her attention and energy into figuring how to get to the Cabinte of wonders where the Prince is said to keep them. A very tall order for such a young girl. However, she finds help from the most unlikely places and from the most unlikely people.
She has scary experiences in the streets of Prague that turn out to be a blessing. She meets a pickpocket who tries to steal her money but events turn in a way that he becomes her friend and ally. Through him she comes in contact with the Gypsies who are not at all bad like she has been told.
And it so happens that Neel has a sister who works at the Castle. But you have to read the book to get the real thrill of all the intrigues and twists and turns this story takes. It is a real page turner and hard to put down. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone betwee 10 and 70+ years. I loved it.
The story includes both delightful magic and dark magic (an evil prince who steals our heroine's father's eyes and does all manner of other terrible things), but in a sort of Hans Christian Anderson way. Kids will love brave 12 year old Petra, who sets out on an adventure to steal back her father's eyes. One of the fascinating aspects of the story is the setting in old Bohemia-- it's so interesting how fact and myth are mixed. While some of the events are spooky, this book will not be too scary for older kids (11 and up?), and teens and adults will love it, too.
My favorite elements of this book were the descriptions of magic and friendships which develop between the characters. The tin "pets" are wonderful (the magical tin spider Astrophil, who loves to read, is one of my very favorite fictional characters-- I hope we will learn more about him as the series unfolds). Many other magical powers are described ("long fingers", the ability to talk to animals, to create magical glass objects, etc.). The Dye maker is a wonderful and very original character, too, who I hope we will meet again in future installments. The castle is an interesting setting-- I hope it will be developed even further in the series.
Finally, to the author: I'm positive this book will be fought over by Hollywood studios. Don't take the first offer! ;) And don't let them change your book for the big screen. ;)
As I read the book, there were also just a few times in each chapter when it **seemed** as if a simple word was being used to make the book easier for children to read. I'm not sure if that was an editor's advice, or if it was done to be in keeping with current ideas about teaching vocabulary (the accelerated reader program, etc.). I didn't think it was necessary-- I really think it is okay for kids to stretch a bit, and sometimes using a more modern or simple word can detract a little bit from the sense of place and mood in the story.