Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Cabinet of Wonders

The Cabinet of Wonders

Marie Rutkoski
Fiction  Series
For ages 11 and up
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008   ISBN: 0374310262

Petra Kronos’s life is a happy one, and she has little to worry about. Then her father, Mikal Kronos, comes home from a visit to Prague and Petra’s life changes forever. Petra’s father has a magical ability, he can build incredible things with metal. Indeed, he is able to commune with metal, bringing metal objects to life and coaxing metal objects to do his will. The prince of Bohemia, a cruel and power-hungry young man, hires Petra’s father to build the finest clock in the world for his city. When it is complete, the prince decides to steal Mikal’s eyes. Prince Rodolfo wants to be sure that Petra’s father will never be able to build another clock, and he also wants to wear Mikal’s eyes. Perhaps if he wears the metalworker’s eyes he will be able to see metal the way Mikal does.

Horrified by what the prince has done to her father, Petra decides to go to Prague to steal the eyes back. Though she is only twelve years old, and though she has never been to Prague, Petra is willing to do whatever it takes to help her father.

In Prague Petra soon discovers that the city is nothing like the little village of Okno where she is from. Even the considerable knowledge of Astrophil, her pet tin spider, cannot help Petra learn how to survive in the dangerous streets. Luckily Petra, befriends Neel, a gypsy - or Roma - boy whom she meets on the streets. Will the help of Neel and his sister, Petra manages to get a job in Prince Rodolfo’s castle. Petra hopes to get access to the prince’s quarters where she is sure her father’s silver colored eyes are being kept.

In this utterly engrossing book, Marie Rutkoski combines sixteenth century European history with magic-rich fantasy to create a story that readers will find irresistible. The author’s characters are full of surprises, and readers will quickly find themselves getting caught up in Petra’s adventures.

This is the first book in the Kronos Chronicles, a series that will surely delight readers who enjoy tales about magic and adventure.