H.P. Wood is wonderful author, creating a wonderful blend of realism with fantasy resulting in a delightful historical fiction of 1904 Coney Island. Reading this book on a plane with a constant cougher put me on edge. It took everything in my power not to stand in the center of the plane, declaring the gentlemen with the coughing fit needs to be quarantined immediately. Magruder’s takes a great deal of inspiration from the 1900s plague outbreak that occurred in San Fransisco and Honolulu. Meanwhile, city officials rather rename the plague, with a softer title, the cough.
This outbreak affects our main character Kitty Hayward leading her to be introduced to the unusual’s of Coney Island. My favorite usual is Rosalind who H.P.Wood has give her best character dialogue. Rosalind has the type of charm/charisma that allows unbreakable lasting friendships to develop. Rosalind lives in his setting of the 1904 where being androgynous would surely secure his seat in the Coney Island Sideshow act. However Rosalind of todays pop culture market would have to do a lot more than wear a dress to shock us today. Rosalind even produced the best explanation of his view exactly on what his gender identity means:
Some days, I wear dresses because I like them, sometimes, I wear trousers because I like those too. Frankly, I don’t know why it is so complicated. Actually that’s not true. Of course I know why; I’ve just chosen not to care very much. Isn’t our little earth grim enough without denying ourselves the prefect lipstick?
The admiration for this character goes wells deep because H.P. Wood created the character Rosalind after the historical references of Chevalier d’Èon de Beaumont, a historical figure that would switch his genre in multiple events through his life has he worked as a French Spy. It was Louis XVI that eventually demanded that Chevalier d’Èon de Beaumont finally stick with one gender identity. Honestly I feel that Rosalind would fit in with todays gender bending crowd with absolutely no issues.
Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood is not a young adult novel. That being said a mature teenager might take pleasure in reading this book just as an adult takes pleasure in young adult novels. That being stated Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood does not shield readers from the cruelty of racism, sexism, classism, ablism, and of course homophobia. This novel is a great for a library/reading club group since there are group discussion questions in the back of the book. The characters are delightful, original, inspirational, and of course memorable. This novel is a wonderful historical fiction for those who enjoy reading a great novel about a young woman Kitty standing up for herself and those who love her no matter how usual they maybe.
Thank you NetGallery for allowing me SourceBook Landmarks and H.P.Wood to mingle at the Magruder’s Taven!
I cannot wait for June 1, 2016 for Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood be available for the masses. I’m sure this novel is going to gain many new fans of H.P. Wood’s work. I know I’m a fan!