Book Reviews

Review: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet By H.P. Wood

Published: June 7th 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark


Source: Won in a Giveaway


Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

SynopsisA hypnotic debut in turn-of-the-century Coney Island, where an abandoned girl collides with a disgruntled menage of circus freaks.


Kitty Hayward and her mother are ready to experience the spectacles of Coney Island’s newest attraction, the Dreamland amusement park. But when Kitty’s mother vanishes from their hotel, she finds herself penniless, alone, and far from her native England. The last people she expects to help are the cast of characters at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities. From con men to strongmen, from flea wranglers to lion tamers, Kitty’s new friends quickly adopt her and vow to help find the missing Mrs. Hayward. But even these unusual inhabitants may not be a match for the insidious sickness that begins to spread through Coney Island…or the panic that turns Dreamland into a nightmare.

With shades of Water For Elephants and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet sweeps readers into a mesmerizing world where nothing is as it seems, and where “normal” is the exception to the rule.”

Spoiler Free Review: 

First off, I’d like to thank Joce from squibblesreads for hosting this giveaway and choosing  me as one of the winners. Congratulations on 3k!


I’m going to be honest and say I had no clue what this book was about. Besides the fact that it was an adult circus themed book, I went in blind. I came out in love with this wonderful story, entranced by the writing and the attachment I developed with each and every one of these characters. As time passes by, I continue to appreciate and adore what an amazing debut this book was. 


The story was very well written and ended up being a little haunting. It’s hard to describe but it reminded me of Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. There was an eccentric and whimsical feel to it. I loved that the setting took place in New York City as well as Coney Island, I’ve never thought about how Coney Island was back in the early 1900s and it was interesting to learn about all of the circuses and entertainment back then.  


The plot was very original and unlike anything I had ever read about. It definitely went into a darker and deeper place that I didn’t see coming. It’s amazing to think that this book is historical fiction and that H.P. Wood managed to weave facts with fiction. She also brings up important topics such as race and sexuality. Initially, I thought nearly all the character would be white since it is, after all the early 1900s. Instead, there’s several characters that are of different ethnicities and backgrounds. New York City was extremely diverse right from the very beginning and it was awesome to see representations of it in this book. 


The characters was what truly shined for me in this book. They were all so distinct and unique. I grew to love all of them, their individual personalities and experiences. The relationships that they developed with one another and as a group was incredibly sweet. It was very easy to grow attached to them. I would have to say Zeph is my favorite out of all of them, though it was hard to choose. I would love to see more from these characters and their adventures.


Overall, this is a very underrated book. Honestly, this story needs to be put out there. Trust me, reading this book will be a wonderful experience. From the writing and unique plot and wonderfully eccentric characters, this is the perfect package of a story. 

Rating: 4.5/5

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