Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 2014
Genre: Adult Fiction/Historical
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Coralie is trapped by her father in his show on Coney Island, just another one of his Extraordinary Things. Her deformity has kept her there, ashamed to venture out and eventually highlighted as an attraction herself. But change is coming.
Eddie has left his father, his people, his old self and only has his dog and camera to support him. When he begins to investigate a missing girl, his path runs into Coralie and her evil father’s museum.
It’s hard to describe the magic that filters through Hoffman’s books. This one, like the others, is filled with a light dusting of magic, making the historical fiction hum with someone more. Something like love and sweetness and a very dark evil in men.
I liked this book a lot. Coralie is easy to get behind and her voice was very clear, ringing through the air of a young girl who is not only in love, but confused about the injustice around her. I love her time swimming in the river, the descriptions of losing herself completely. Even in the tank when all she wanted to do was close out her viewers. She’s young but not that young and as her bravery grows, so does Coralie’s love for Eddie.
Eddie is harder to like, more complicated and angry. He’s harsh and judgmental, which gave him a nice balance to Coralie who i so sweet and naive. I felt sad for his father and him, and the roads he took to forget his past life. But Eddie’s journey was more real to me, maybe because he was older and not as naive as Coralie. Or maybe because he is searching for what we all are, making mistakes along the way. I have to admit that I didn’t love either of these characters by themselves. But together, they balance nicely.
The book moves slowly, like you are swimming in a pool. It’s not unpleasant, and the descriptions are well written and it’s easy to fall into the story. But it is slow and I’m glad I listened to the audiobook because it kept it moving for me. I have been interested by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire before, especially since it’s a topic on one of the podcasts I listen to: Stuff You Missed In History. Using this disaster as a backdrop for the story kept me interested. Between that and the huge Dreamland fire that breaks out in the end, the real historical disasters give the book a much greater gravity and darkness. Through these real life disasters and sadness, you see love and dedication and loyalties along with the menace and twisted evil of Coralie’s father, the Professor.
The Professor- mad scientist, carnival master, puppeteer all rolled into one. His dark evilness in the name of science is threatening and every scene he was in stole the show. I was afraid for Coralie, for her and for all of the workers at the museum.
I thought the whole story magical and enjoyed my commute into work, rooting for Coralie and Eddie.
Overall, I recommend The Museum of Extraordinary Things for readers who like a story that unfolds slowly, dusted with magic.
Rating 7 Would Recommend