by H.P. Wood
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I love your face.
I’m glad there aren’t dozens of you.”
Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet
Cover lust. The two words that sum up why I requested this book via Netgalley. It’s bright. It’s beautiful. I love it.Historical fiction set in NYC in the early part of the 20th century. The phrase that sums up what drew me into the story once I started reading it.
And with that, I can say…
Welcome to the circus, my friend.”H.P. Wood, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet
Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet was the perfect companion during my crazy airline travel adventures last month. I felt a bit like Kitty during my travels—adrift among a curious cast of characters all with their own struggles, but willing to take the time to commiserate with me and help me get home.
With a curious cast of characters, none more important than another, H.P. Wood is able to capture the essence of Coney Island near the start of the 20th Century, the struggles of the Unusuals and a few key Dozens (the “normal” people) and produce a delightful story of what it means to be human and how one can craft their own meaning of family.
My favorite character by far in the story was Rosalind. Rosalind performs on Coney Island as a half man/half woman. Wood does give us a peek into the performance and the shock it brings to the Dozens who attend the show. I was mesmerized by Rosalind’s acceptance of self and how the other characters, both the Unusuals and the key Dozens at the center of the story, accept Rosalind just as he is. Rosalind’s acceptance by the other characters was refreshing. There were no long drawn out explanations about his gender and his life choices, it just was.
Spencer raises his glass.
‘You’re worth a dozen Dozens, easily.'”
H.P. Wood, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet
Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet is a character study. There’s no great mystery or love story. It’s is truly about the people that inhabit Coney Island and how they are thrown together to save each other. It’s strictly about how difficult times shape us as human beings and how those difficult moments in life can bring out the best in some of us and the worst. It was a different kind of historical fiction novel from that standpoint for me. The characters drove the story and I was delighted to go on this journey of self-discovery with them. It was an adventure I won’t soon forget and one that I wouldn’t mind going on again.
Different is okay. I like different.”H.P. Wood, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet