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Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,054 ratings  ·  291 reviews
May 1904. Coney Island’s newest amusement park, Dreamland, has just opened. Its many spectacles are expected to attract crowds by the thousands, paying back investors many times over.

Kitty Hayward and her mother arrive by steamer from South Africa. When Kitty’s mother takes ill, the hotel doctor sends Kitty to Manhattan to fetch some special medicine. But when she returns,
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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H.P. Wood
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)

This is my book. I don't think I'm the one to review it. I can tell you it's not for everybody. But I do sincerely hope it's for you!

Editing this to add: My website has a few features that you might enjoy checking out if you liked the book. Magruder's Library lists books that informed my writing, Magruder's Scrapbook has photos, and Magruder's Victrola will introduce you to some of the music that either appears in the book or influenced it. It's all at Cheers!)
This is a fantastical and magical story during the heyday of the freakshows and carnivals of 1904 Coney Island, in which we meet a large cast of odd characters. We have Zeph the legless dreadlocked black guy, Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet mad scientist and inventor Doc Timur, the Tibetan Priestess Yeshi Ripoche, P-Ray the mute Turkish boy, Miss Vivi Leveque the leopard lady, and so many more. These so called Unusuals come together when a plague is causing mysterious deaths and the island is put u ...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
Oh god did I love this book. I had such a fun time reading it. And I actually think this may be my first carnival/freakshow/circus/magician type book so I haven't had time to get jaded yet, but this was just a load of fun despite a few flaws. It made me want to visit Coney Island and eat a hotdog and ride the Wonder Wheel.

Really the only thing that's made me even kind of familiar with this storyline and genre was this

This novel takes place in a time when real estate investors and businessmen are
Diana • Book of Secrets
MAGRUDER'S CURIOSITY CABINET is a peculiar book with a large cast of odd and colorful characters.

In 1904, Coney Island draws thousands of visitors to its spectacular new amusement park called Dreamland. Seventeen-year old Kitty arrives there with her mother from South Africa, only to end up alone and homeless when her mother falls ill, then mysteriously disappears. Kitty befriends the "Unusuals" working at Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of the strange and unusual, and they agree to help
Okay, first: I usually try to give out stars based on how much I enjoyed a book, not whether it's well-written or if I think other people might enjoy it.

Granted, usually I will enjoy books more that are well-written, with nice prose, good characterization, beautiful settings, and tightly-woven plots, but that doesn't mean that simply because I don't enjoy a book, and give it a low rating, that it lacks any or all of those criteria.

This book is set in New York of ago, and I thought (based on the
Matt Wire
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow. What an incredible read. The cast of characters is very well developed and the writing pulls you into this dark, somewhat dreary, world. Everything about this book is addictive and entertaining, it was one of those books I would classify as “unputdownable!”.
Jeannette Nikolova
Jul 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.

I had a rather pessimistic approach to this book, because I believed, and still do, that the world has had just about enough carnival books, movies and shows. I, personally, have read and watched too many to count, some of which so bad and boring that I don't even want to remember them.

Luckily, even though they sell it as such, Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet is not a carnival book. There are a number of strange people, who consider themselves separate f
Brenda A
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Love, love, love love love this. It has a classic freakshow/carnie setting, characters who break through traditional stereotypes, and it is historically (somewhat) accurate.

Our characters here are by far the strongest part of the book. We have Kitty the classically pretty British girl, Zeph the black man with dreadlocks but no legs, P-Ray the mute Turkish boy, Nazan the "exotic" (Turkish) high society girl, Enzo the half-burned man, Rosalind who is gender-fluid, Spencer the seemingly uptight tr
3 and half, rounded down because I won't be re-reading it.

I almost feel guilty for not liking this book more than I did. I think I got really excited because it had so many elements I love and can’t get enough of and got my hopes too high. I enjoyed it and I really recommend it to those who, like me, love a circus freak story, but it wasn’t as satisfying as I expected.

The story centers around Kitty, a young British girl who is, for lack of a better word, lost on Coney Island. Her mother and her
Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I requested and received this book from Netgally. I knew from the blurb that it would most likely have to do with the black plague (which it did), and “carnies” (which is also did), but I wasn’t sure what the overall feel would be.

We start the story with a Miss Kitty Hayward sitting alone on a bench in front of the sea, just outside of Coney Island. Her and her mother checked into a hotel, and because her mother was ill, the staff suggested some medicine
Rachel Stansel
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It is 1904, Coney Island, and a terrible illness is spreading. Called at first the Cough, the Plague is fast moving. Coney is under quarantine and those affected are moved out to an isolated pair of islands to be disposed of.

It is in this place and time that a group of people become a family and Magruder's is part home, part clubhouse and part sanctuary. We meet "normal" folks, referred to as Dozens (as in a dime a dozen) and Unusuals from Coney Island. Together the unlikely friends and allies
Dec 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, netgalley
I should have liked this book more, it is definitely my kind if book, historical fiction with colorful characters set in New York. However I kept putting it down and wasn't really interested in picking it up again. Probably just me, but I was not enchanted.

Kitty, an English teenager has come to New York with her mother and her brother's dead body. That may sound interesting, but the brother is really only an irrelevant detail. The mother goes missing during a plague epidemic that is spreading a
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, favorites
Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet!!! First things first: I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley.
The book is already out and I really recommend it.
Book summary:
After Kitty Hayward’s mother vanishes from their Coney Island hotel in 1904, Kitty finds herself alone, hungry, penniless, and far away from her native England. The last people she’d expect to help her are the cast of characters at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of oddities that is home to a handful of freaks. But even the un
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
This just wasn't for me, I couldn't get into the story and all the characters were a bit to much.
Alicia Marie
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Margruder's Curiosity Cabinet is full of characters I loved, characters I hated, and characters I just can't get out of my head. The entire plot is so well described and thought out. Full scene and character development really makes this book phenomenal.

Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for allowing me to read and review.

Read this full review along with other book reviews at
nikkia neil
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Thanks SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and netgalley for this ARC.

Truly remarkable how into this quirky and lovable book I became. Worth the short time it takes to read because there is so much packed into it. Classic
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story! Thank you NetGalley!
The characters are absolutely loveable, strange, but so loveable. I laughed, cried and was horrified at times.
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, arc-reviewed
There are a few fictional settings I just never get sick of, no matter how many stories I’ve read about them: boardings schools, especially if they’re of the mysterious or magical kind (*coughs* Hogwarts *coughs*), desert islands with wicked secrets or the dark and dangerous streets of the Victorian London. Another setting that’s on this „never gets boring“ list are amusement parks and carnivals and that’s what instantly attracted me to H.P. Wood’s novel „Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet“. The story ...more
Erin Clemence
Feb 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Special thanks to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for the electronic ARC of this novel.
“Magruder’s Curiousity Cabinet” is almost indescribable. It is most definitely eccentric, creative, smart and intriguing and at the same time it is bizarre, unusual, disturbing and even funny.
Kitty Hayward is traveling to New York City with her mother after the death of her beloved brother. When her mother disappears, Kitty finds herself alone and desperate. She is rescued by an old gentleman who brings h
Angela Holtz
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
**I was given a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

What a ride! This book was fantastic. I really expected more magic than there was. It wasn't so much fantasy, as it was about the "unusuals" who lived on Coney Island in 1905. H.P. Wood did a great job showing how the people who considered themselves unusual, had to deal with not fitting in. It was great how they came together and really were a family. Even the ones they didn't like
Halston Seabolt
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I got this book for an honest review on Netgalley. So when I saw this book the cover caught my attention,so I then read the overview and became interested. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I do now.

Mrs. Kitty Hayward thrown out of her hotel room with no reason as to why. Her mother still at the hotel. Kitty finds herself sitting on a bench on Coney Island far from her home with no money and no family. When an old thief approaches her and changes her life forever.

I loved every singl
Seton Rae
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Coney Island, 1904 - a place spilling over with manufactured delights, amusements, and oddities. Strangest among these is Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet, a magnet for sideshow performers and confidence tricksters who make their living on a boardwalk. When a lost British heiress stumbles into their circle, the denizens of Magruder's find themselves caught up in a mystery that threatens to destroy Coney Island, and the lives of those who live there.

H.P. Wood offers a convincing and detailed depicti
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a marvelous adventure into history. I had read a book several years ago that had a cabinet of curiosity in it. So I already knew something about the history of these places. That part drew my attention to this book initially. I want to say that I truly enjoyed the well drawn characters, the trip into history including not only the cabinet of curiosity but the circus too! And all on Coney Island! Young Kitty is the main character who finds herself alone in New York without any friends. She g ...more
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you like the spirit of Coney Island that’s the book for you. It’s crazy, mysterious and intriguing at the point you can’t put it down.

*This book was kindly sent to me via NetGalley by SOURCEBOOKS Landmark*
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, netgalley
How utterly marvelous this book was.

It all begins with a blonde girl sitting on a bench on a beach. Despite the families playing in the sand not far from her, she is as alone as anyone can be. She is picked up by a conman who introduces her to a whole new world – that of Coney Island and its denizens. "You call us Unusuals, freaks, monsters… Did you never think we’d have our own name for you […normal people]? Dozens. As in, dime a.” I think I like that even better than "Muggles".

I'll admit, it
I received this book via Netgalley for honest review.

This transports the reader back to the heyday of Coney Island and all its magic, weirdness and glory. A time when misunderstood DNA mutations, disease or tragedy left people with physical challenges or deformities and many of these "unusual" people were often found in carnivals, traveling circuses, etc. Filled with side show attractions, immigrants, con-men, corporate opportunists and those just trying to make a living. Adding quite a bit of a
Karen ⊰✿
Dec 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, uno_2016
Set on Coney Island in 1904, this story follows an unlikely group of friends as the island is thrown into quaratine due to an outbreak of the plague.
Although there is some historical basis for the book, the plague never did hit Coney Island (or the east coast of the US), so for the most part this is a work of fiction about what may have happened if it did.
So, if not exploring historical events what is this book about? There is a quote that I highlighted
"...But here on Coney Island, we learn to
Jan 01, 2016 added it
*I was given an advance copy of this book, but the review is my own*

This book is an absolute treasure. The beginning reminded me of a tale I'd once read in Scary Stories You Tell After Dark and I was curious where it would go.

HP Wood creates a fairytale land full of horror and tragedy. The characters are strong and resilient, and you find yourself cheering some on and wishing some would perish. It doesn't always go the way you want, but the story resolves well.

There always seem to be many thin
Kim McGee
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Picture Coney Island in 1904. A young British girl is wandering around after coming to the states on a ship and separated from her ill mother. She has no home, no money and no food. Kitty is taken in by the wonderfully diverse group of freaks who call Coney Island home. Soon she is a regular at Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet where she is taken in by a transvestite, half man and a con man. There is a storm coming and it arrives in the form of a plague where the inhabitants of the island are used as ...more
Amanda - Cover2CoverMom
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2016
Read my original review on my blog -> Cover2CoverMom Book Review: Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood

Set in Coney Island (New York) in 1904, Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet has elements of historical fiction, science fiction/fantasy, and mystery all rolled into one. This book is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it to be delightfully peculiar.

My Thoughts:
I knew when I saw that cover of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, that I had to read it. I don’t know about you, bu
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H. P. Wood is the granddaughter of a mad inventor and a sideshow magician. Instead of making things disappear, she makes books of all shapes and sizes. She has written or edited works on an array of topics, including the history of the Internet, the future of human rights, and the total awesomeness of playing with sticks. She lives in Connecticut with a charming and patient husband and a daughter ...more

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