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The Shrunken Head

(The Curiosity House #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,198 ratings  ·  388 reviews
What you will find in this book:

– A rather attractive bearded lady
– Several scandalous murders
– A deliciously disgusting Amazonian shrunken head
– Four extraordinary children with equally extraordinary abilities
– A quite loquacious talking bird

Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks,
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by HarperCollins Children's Books
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,198 ratings  ·  388 reviews

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Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-favorites


This gave me a Series of Unfortunate Events meets American Horror Story: Freakshow vibe and I loved every freaking moment of it. This book is so full of dark humor that it almost busts out through the seams. It's dark, hilarious, heart-warming, whimsical, heart-breaking, and bubbling with with mystery. Don't go into this book expecting a cute Middle-Grade read because you'll be incredibly disappointed. It's not cute at all, it's 10x better than that.


I loved all
Steysha Kravits
Oct 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages: welcome to Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders!

Oh, what an adventure! I haven`t read children's literature in a long time, though many things happening in this book can`t be called childish. It`s quite suitable for adults - the main characters might be children, but the events that occur in their life are definitely severe. I had goose bumps from the description of the hanged man!

This story reminded me a bit of Mi
Ivonne Rovira
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults who know children's lit doesn't have to be "sweet" or "gooey"
Recommended to Ivonne by: BookBub
Lauren Oliver, best known for her children’s book Liesl & Po and her adult novel Rooms, shows that she’s not bound by age or genre with The Shrunken Head, a middle-grades novel that will appeal as much to adults as children.

In New York City in the depths of the Great Depression, orphans Philippa “Pippa” Devue, Thomas Able, and Sam Fort have lived nearly their entirely lives at Dumphrey’s Dime Museum (a Ripley’s Believe It or Not-style museum combined with circus acts) under the watchful eye of
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lauren Oliver has finally done it! She's finally given me a book that I enjoyed and wasn't bored throughout the entire thing. Apparently where it's at is middle grade for Lauren Oliver books!

This story followed 4 young children, Pippa, Max, Sam and Thomas and their journey and adventure to solving a series of murders before their home (a dime museum) gets closed down. Each one has very special powers that helps them solve the crime.

I ADORED this story. It was so good! The mystery wasn't predicta
Stacey (prettybooks)
I've enjoyed two of Lauren Oliver's middle grade novels before – Liesl & Po and The Spindlers so I was quite excited to see that she had written another. It's the first in The Curiosity House series and was perfect to add to my Halloween TBR. However, I did make the mistake of picking it up straight after reading The Diviners . Both feature an intriguing museum, mysterious murders and characters with unusual abilities. This similarity meant that I was often mixing the two up! But my ...more
Sara Saif
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it

Actual Rating: 3.5/4

I wouldn't have picked this series up if I hadn't bought the second book in this series back in February because the cover looked beautiful. Sigh. But, The Shrunken Head was surprisingly enjoyable. It was very easy to read and follow and thank goodness for that because dehydration makes you temporarily stupid and drowsy.

Pippa, Sam, Thomas and Max are four orphans with extraordinary abilities who are part of a museum in New York. The Museum allegedly exhibits oddities and

Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story followed four orphaned extraordinary children housed in a museum of oddities and their adventures to solving a series of murders. Let it be known that I can't resist a middle grade book. And this one is just so much fun! I really liked the fact that it was extremely fast paced. I enjoyed how the mystery unraveled, it kept me guessing the entire time. It also had a great ending, everything fit perfectly together like a puzzle. Overall, this is a great story with the beautiful illustrat ...more
Ferlina (bigpileofbooks)
I enjoyed this more than I expected. Even though, I didn't feel really attached with the characters, I love the middle-grade mystery vibe in it! And also all those beautiful illustrations.

This book made me feel like I'm back again at the time when I reread "The Famous Five" series for 10000x times. Those beautiful days....

Well, if you're looking for an easy-reading MG book with a little mystery in it, maybe you should try this one!
Ms. Yingling
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it
ARC from Publicist

Sam, Thomas and Pippa work at Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks and Oddities in New York City. It is one of the last dime museums operating in the 1930s, and has live performances as well as displays of "curiosities". When Mr. Dumfrey buys a shrunken head, odd things start to happen. A woman falls from the balcony and is killed, and Bill Evans, a reporter, blames the head in a sensational news article. A new girl, Max, shows up hoping for work at the museum and is taken in right
Rashika (is tired)
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

This book honestly just wins. The Shrunken Head is one of the best middle grade novels I’ve read in a while and I barely even knew what it was about before diving in. I just saw the pretty cover and that it was by an author whose name I was familiar with so I decided to give it a shot. This book was 1000% worth it.

The Shrunken head is EVERYTHING. This book combines the supernatural, with a historical setting, throws in a little bit of m
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
My Review:
I never read a Lauren Oliver book before and I am not sure why. I absolutely loved this story and the cover is fantastic. This book is a lot of fun to read and the 4 main characters in this book make this book a great read. The story is told in 4 different POVs Pippa, Max, Thomas & Sam. The kids live at Dumbfrey's Dime Museum as one of the attraction. Each kid has a special talent  that is unique, most of the oddities at the museum are like side show performers but the kids are diffe
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
I haven't always had the best author reader relationship with Lauren Oliver. I enjoyed her Delirium series, but both Before I Fall and Panic were books that I had so many issues with. Her new foray into middle grade with The Curiosity House series is a complete success and I enjoyed every moment. There is something so utterly lovely about a well written and adventurous middle grade series and installment one, The Shrunken Head, shows exactly why the young
Ah, here I am again. I found myself always attracted to read books with pretty covers and a famous author and The Shrunken Head has all that, and most of the time sadly I am left unimpressed by the story. I had no idea what it had in store when I started reading it because I don’t really read the summary on gr but I know that it’s a children book (pretty obvious from the cover, title, etc.)

The Shrunken Head is about four orphan kids who live in a museum of wonders. Think about American Horror St
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
At Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, a person can see many unusual things. like relics, mummies, a bearded lady and more. It's 1930 New York City and everyone is intrigued by the items found at the museum, especially with the arrival of the new Amazonian shrunken head. Philippa, Sam, Pippa and Max are all orphans and live at the museum, but they aren't like other children. They all have extraordinary abilities, which makes them part of the appeal at the museum. Things start ...more
I enjoyed reading this story. I especially love the drawings/illustrations. I think this is a good mystery for the pre-teenager. Anyone older may find it a bit more style over substance. However, I do think this shows a great deal of promise as a series. This being the first one, I think this is a novel situation that can grow into its own in the future. I think this is a bit too tame for teenagers. But for the young at heart, I think there is an old fashioned innocence mixed with a lot of empat ...more
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
This is one of the most beautiful middle grade books I've seen. The hardback version has a lovely dust jacket and also some pretty art on the book itself. But the artwork inside the book is my favorite. Such great illustrations.
The story is really good as well. A very nice middle grade mystery with a supernatural flair. I really enjoyed it and look forward to where the series is going. Plus, I think my daughters are going to really enjoy reading it as well.
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
This one was just okay for me. Everything felt rushed and too easy to figure out. I liked the writing enough, and generally there is more telling than showing in middle grade (and I totally get that), but this felt like it went above and beyond. I felt the same way about Oliver's other middle grade novel, Liesl and Po, as well.

Great character. Great mystery. Great book.
Eye of Sauron
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, middle-grade
I loved this book at the beginning. The back cover is fantastically eccentric, and the strange and weirdness-infested introduction and setting are enough to make the darkest of Dark Lords feel a little bit of creepy curious magical energy.

The wonder (and perhaps the novelty) wore off, though, as the novel progressed, and the elements of mystery faded into explanations decidedly less attractive as cliché after cliché popped up in the dialogue, and every plot "twist" was visible from at least fift
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
This was so much fun! It was kinda dark and murder-y for a middle grade but that made it different from a lot of other middle grades. The mystery even kept me guessing and I freaking loved the "you make family" sentiment of the cast. I can't believe I got the whole series on Book Outlet for under $10 CAD! So freaking worth it! ...more
1/4/18 On sale for Kindle $2.24.
Lauren Oliver is really Laura Schechter (check the copywrite) and she wrote this with Harold Schechter, so I'm presuming he's her dad, who is a well known true crime and mystery author (primarily, he's really versatile, and seems quite impressive). It could be a brother also named Harold, or some random guy with the same last name, but I think it's a fair assumption that it's her father. It makes sense that they'd want to do a book together and make it a young adult mystery, a combination of the ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss

The Shrunken Head is a middle grade mystery. It is the first book in The Curiosity House series.

It features four remarkable orphans (all around 12 years old): Pippa, Sam, Thomas and Max. Pippa is a mentalist (she can tell what is in people's pockets). Sam is the world’s strongest boy. Thomas can squeeze himself into small spaces. And Max (girl) is an amazing knife-thrower. They perform and live at Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders.

This book is MG, which is not really my norm
Oct 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Let it be known that I can't resist a middle grade book at the best of times, but if it's by Lauren Oliver there's no question it will end up on my reading list! She charmed me with Liesl & Po, made me shiver with The Spindlers, and left no doubt in my mind that I'd pick up any middle grade book she puts forth. There are certain authors who just understand what a book for this age group needs. A pinch of madness, a few drops of magic, some interesting history, and the type of characters who stea ...more
Evelyn Brewer
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
DNF. Got as far as p. 205.
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
In Depression-era New York City, four exceptional and quirky orphans who live in a freak show find themselves embroiled in a mystery after the show’s shrunken head is stolen. When innocent people start dying off, all somehow related to the head, there is a media sensation, and their own guarder and the museum’s proprietor is arrested on suspicion of murder. Of course, there is a deeper secret, one concerning the strangely powerful and talented kids’ origins, and they find that they are the ones ...more
Oct 25, 2015 rated it liked it
I found this book to be a fun read. There are so many eccentric characters that reside at Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. Additionally, Philippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max keep things interesting as well. However as much as all of the characters were entertaining, I did that I was not as fully invested in the story as I thought I would be. The events that happened in the story were toned down for the younger readers like the deaths of some of the characters. Which on the one h ...more
Allyson Shelton
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing

I really dug this book! It has a great cast of characters and the growing relationships between them. Max, Pippa, Sam, and Thomas... I loved them all. I wish the novel was longer and we had more down time with the characters. The story arc and mystery was interesting till the very end. It was fun and nerve racking. The setting is whimsical and dark and speaks to me. I recommend this if you love middle grade, freak shows (or just the AHS show), who dun it's, and just amazing novels honestly.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Charming middle-grade adventure featuring a cast of misfits and oddballs. There's enough violence (several murders) that this book is probably not for the more faint- or tender-hearted reader. Those who don't mind a little bloodshed and some gruesome details--not to mention petty thievery and other assorted vices--will find a cracking good mystery and an exciting start to this new trilogy from best-selling author Oliver. ...more
Astrid Lim
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
House of curiosity, freaky entertainers, weird museum, wonders of the world, four misfits, murder mystery, and.. most of all, new york city. Why not to love about this book? Lauren Oliver, as usual, delivered the story nicely, with lots of interesting details that she actually got from the real famous collector, HC Chester. Plus, the illustrations are cute!!! I can't wait for the next book of the series!! ...more
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Lauren Oliver is the cofounder of media and content development company Glasstown Entertainment, where she serves as the president of production. She is also the New York Times bestselling author of the YA novels Replica, Vanishing Girls, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages. The film rights to both Replica ...more

Other books in the series

The Curiosity House (3 books)
  • The Screaming Statue (The Curiosity House, #2)
  • The Fearsome Firebird (The Curiosity House, #3)

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“People thought she and Pippa and Thomas and Sam were the freaks. But the real freaks were people like Evans—people who could hide their true selves completely, as if all their lives they were wearing Halloween masks.” 0 likes
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