It’s Coney Island 1904 and Kitty’s mother has disappeared from their hotel while Kitty went to fetch medicine for her. Kitty is alone, penniless, and has no place to stay until conman Archie introduces her to the other Unusuals at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. And so we get to meet Zeph who has no legs and pretty much runs Magruder’s, P-Ray the boy who tends to the flea circus, Rosalind – half man/half woman act, and Timur a brilliant scientist who lives upstairs at the Cabinet to name a few.
The Unusuals agree to help Kitty even though she is one of the Dozens – so called normal people. A sickness is spreading across the island. It’s definitely worse than the flu. It’s killing people seemingly randomly and without mercy. The end result is a quarantine of Coney Island cutting them off from the rest of New York. What will become of them all?
The characters are well developed and interesting to read about. They all are confronted with the plague and handle it in different ways. Some rise to be better, while others sink lower. My favorites are Kitty, Nazan, and Zeph. Kitty and Nazan were two of the Dozens. Zeph is an Unusual . It’s interesting to watch how some of the Dozens become used to the Unusuals and start to see past their appearances and behaviors. I very much enjoyed the story and wished for a better outcome for several of the characters. It definitely has its dark moments.
This is not a story for children. It is very much an adult story and an excellent one at that. It deals with adult themes such as how people behave when they are cut off from the general populace with disease running rampant, racism, and differences in class.
I gave this book 4 stars based on the characterization, the plot, and pace. Even with the dark moments, it is a good read. There is more information about the book and its inspiration on the author’s website. Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood was published June 7, 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.