Cabinet of WondersPetras father, Mikal Kronos, has been blinded. A magically gifted metalworker, he was summoned to Prague to build the Bohemian ruler a clock – a beautiful clock to impress the populace and control the weather. When all that was left was the mechanism to control the weather, the Prince ordered Mikal’s eyes gouged out and magically preserved, able to be worn by the Prince himself; because the Prince wanted to finish the clock himself, because he wanted to see the world as Mikal does, because he doesn’t want Mikal to make anything that beautiful for anyone else. So, naturally, Petra must go off to Prague to retrieve her father’s eyes. Of course, she promptly has her pocket picked by a Gypsy, who, of course, is a noble thief and, of course, promptly befriends her and helps her in her task. Because we’ve totally never seen that before.

It’s a straightforward, well-written story with moments of fantastic imagination – the tin animals Petra’s farther creates, the Worry Vials her best friend’s father creates (like worry dolls, only they actually absorb your worries), a peculiar skin condition, and other cleverness – but while the main characters have distinct, fleshed-out personalities, their motivations are not fleshed-out and the supporting characters have little in the way of either. Making John Dee rather bland and predictable is a bit of an achievement; unfortunately, it’s not an achievement to celebrate. Still, the thread of inventiveness woven through the book is much appreciated.

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The Cabinet of Wonders ~