Title: The Cabinet of Wonders
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Kronos Chronicles #1
Petra Kronos had a happy life with her father, before he went to work for the prince. And then the prince returns him, only without his eyes, so that he might never create a masterpiece to rival the clock he has built for the prince. Petra, infuriated, heads to Prague to get into the prince’s palace and steal her father’s eyes back. Of course, it isn’t that easy . . .
This was a relatively short adventure with a pretty unique setting. Alternate-history Prague in the 16th century, with a dash of magic and a little steampunk (Petra’s father makes living tin animals, and Petra herself owns a spider he made). I liked Petra’s father’s gift of magic and metal, and the various unique objects he’s created with it. Nor is he the only one with a bit of magic and crafting—Petra’s friend Tomik has a way with glass, Tomik’s father creates jars that hold your worries, and so on.
The characters are also quirky and memorable, from Neel, the gypsy with a particular talent for theft, to my favorite, Iris the dye-maker, who oozes acid whenever she’s afraid or angry. (Seriously, I will hunt down the sequel right now if Iris shows up again, although it’s highly unlikely Petra will be back to the palace). Add to that a very peculiar ensemble of villains—a painter, a surgeon, and of course the prince. But as the nefarious deeds of the anyone not the prince tend to be more hinted than spelled out, I hope some of them will show up again to give a bit more depth to their characters.
Overall this is nice and short, and if the somewhat macabre mission isn’t a deterrent then it should be an enjoyable read. I rate this book Recommended.