Book 1 : THE CABINET OF WONDERS
By Marie Rutkoski
Release date : August 2008
Petra Kronos has a simple, happy life. But it’s never been ordinary. She has a pet tin spider named Astrophil who likes to hide in her snarled hair and give her advice. Her best friend can trap lightning inside a glass sphere. Petra also has a father in faraway Prague who is able to move metal with his mind. He has been commissioned by the prince of Bohemia to build the world’s finest astronomical clock. Petra’s life is forever changed when, one day, her father returns home – blind. The prince has stolen his eyes, enchanted them, and now wears them. But why? Petra doesn’t know, but she knows this: she will go to Prague, sneak into Salamander Castle, and steal her father’s eyes back. Joining forces with Neel, whose fingers extend into invisible ghosts that pick locks and pockets, Petra finds that many people in the castle are not what they seem, and that her father’s clock has powers capable of destroying their world. (from Macmillan)MY THOUGHTS : I found this book poetic, original and beautifully written. I love reading new fairytales, full of fresh elements (objects, places or personalities), and this one made me travel in a magical atmosphere that I didn't want to leave. The characters were well described and each of them unique. The magical powers they have are original. The mix between history, fantasy and bohemian life works really well, in a subtle way. I fell in love with Petra's dad's workshop and all the mecanical animals in it, there were many fun and touching scenes happening with them. On the other hand, I thought that certain scenes could've been shortened and others lenghtened. I also didn't have any notion of the amount of time passing from the moment Petra arrives in Prague until she leaves... And I found that everything was a tad too easy for Petra : when you think that she's 12 and has always lived a simple life, it's amazing how she gets what she wants quite effortlessly. I would've liked a few more obstacles sometimes. But overall I really enjoyed reading this book, and would love to read the sequel. Oh, and I love the cover, don't you?