Tag Archives: plague

Review: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H.P. Wood

4 Stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the chance to read this book prior to publication.  The review below is my opinion and was not impacted in any way by receiving an advance reading copy.

1904 Coney Island.  The newest amusement park, Dreamland, has opened and the summer tourists are beginning to swarm upon this bright new attraction.  But the other side of the island are the forgotten relics of a different era.  Part of that bygone era is Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet, a museum of curiosities and oddities.  Home to a mad scientist and a place for the Unusuals to hang out and not be stared at or laughed at for their appearance.  Into this scene comes young Kitty Hayward.  A young English woman who has come to America with her family and has seemed to lost them along the way and no one will tell her where they are.  By luck or chance, she is brought to Magruder’s and its inhabitants take her under their wing as they try to help her find out what has happened to her mother.

The story brings together two sides of the coin in Coney Island.  The business owners and politicians who will do anything it takes to keep not only their investments but their own class safe.  On the other side you have the everyday people who make these investments profitable, the Unusuals who put on their shows and ply their trades to bring in the tourists.  In the wake of a plague going through the island like wildfire, the blame is put on the modest flea circus held at Magruder’s and on those who run the circus and other myriad of features around the island.  The tourists flee and those left behind have to struggle to stay alive, keep their way of life intact and solve the mystery of Kitty’s mother.

There are so many characters that sometimes it is hard to keep them all sorted out.  But they are all vividly drawn and they each have their own story that lends to the greater narrative.  The heroes and villains are sometimes one in the same.  There is plenty of action and suspense and there are a few twists and turns along the way that you may not be expecting.  I was left wanting more and I haven’t yet decided if that’s good or bad!

While this is a work of fiction, you can tell that the history of Coney Island was well researched and the descriptions of Magruder’s Curiosity Closet remind you of several oddities and curiosities museums all over the world.  The more unusual characters were treated with respect and weren’t allowed to become caricatures.  I think my favorite would have to be Rosalind and I think he will probably become yours too.

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Review: The Devil’s Game by Sean Chercover

4 Stars

The Devil’s Game is the follow up to The Trinity Game.  I would recommend reading the first book in this series first to get a better understanding of the overall story and to help identify the characters and their motives.  The Devil’s Game will also spoil any surprises that were in The Trinity Game.  You have been warned.

Daniel Byrne spent ten years as a Vatican investigator, debunking miracle claims until his last investigation shook the very foundation of his faith and beliefs.  He is now determined to find the truth and makes the decision to join a powerful group, one that has the ability to influence events worldwide.  They are chasing down another powerful group who have the same ability and are the antithesis of the group Daniel has joined.

Daniel infiltrates a secret government facility and finds a bizarre strain of the Plague that seems to have the ability to flood a patient’s mind with visions of the future and the ability to do things they had never done before, like speak a different language.  Things that were very similar to what happened with Tim Trinity and what he and others call the Trinity Phenomenon.  Daniel begins a search to trace the roots of the pathogen and teams up with a disgraced physician named Kara who is plagued by visions of her own.  The truth is far scarier than they could have imagined and the stakes of the game these two powerful entities are playing for have never been higher.

The story is very quick paced and it was hard to put the book down, wanting to see what was going to happen next.  I wasn’t as impressed with the relationship between Kara and Daniel.  To me, it seemed forced and unnecessary.  I think their interaction could have been done without the romantic angle.  I think it took away from both of them.  I think she could have been a stronger character without the romance.  And I really don’t like what happened to her in the end.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book and would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good thriller with just a little faith, belief, science and science fiction thrown in.  It’s just enough to make it believable and enough to make you think…what if?

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Filed under Mystery/Suspense/Thriller