Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood
I think this is probably the most odd book that I’ve read.
Having said that, it’s a captivating read – in an odd sort of way.
Set in Coney Island in 1904, it chronicles strange events that occur in and around Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet – a museum/showcase for the unusual and ‘freakish’.
As well as the ‘Unusuals’ (show people with a wide range of talents or disabilities which render them objects for viewing) who inhabit the area, the book also introduces a few more ordinary characters, who the Unusuals call ‘Dozens’. One of these characters is Kitty Hayward, a young english girl travelling with her mother, who returns to their hotel one day to discover her mother has disappeared and the hotel staff claim that they have never heard of her…….
To try and explain the plot would be impossible. It’s quite dark, and gruesome at times, whilst tackling a whole range of issues which would have been viewed very differently to how we would understand them today.
Think street entertainment with elements of corporate greed, racism, lack of basic community health, LGBT, mad scientist and you begin to get the picture.
Does Kitty find her mother?
Do we ever find out who Magrudedr is?
Why is P-Ray called P-Ray?
You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Thanks to SourceBooks for providing an advance copy for review purposes, via Netgalley.