In novels, I don’t generally like my fantasy mixed with history, because then I never know what’s real, and I don’t know if I’m actually learning anything. I also have more problems suspending my disbelief. This is true of urban fantasy, science fantasy, supernatural, etc. If something’s set in the real world, I have a hard time believing in monsters and magic. If it’s set in a fake world, I have no problem believing the same things. Call me weird.
So, Cabinet of Wonders takes place in the Czech Republic during the Renaissance. I LOVE the Czech setting and all the Czech names, the foods I’ve eaten and places I’ve actually walked. But then there’s magic too, which for me dilutes the pleasure of the setting a little. However, this is my personal issue, and if you don’t mind the mix, you’ll love The Cabinet of Wonders. The author, in her “Author’s note” confesses: “I’m a little worried that someone, somewhere is going to object to the way I’ve manhandled history.” So she asks Astrophil, the tin spider in her novel, and he reminds her that she never made any promises to be historically accurate so she doesn’t need to worry. “After all,” he says, “I am not historically accurate. But I exist.” So there you go.
The magic in the book is perhaps unrealistically powerful, but highly imaginative and interesting. The pacing of the story is good, the events interesting, the writing smooth, the characters fun (I love the tin spider). It’s a very enjoyable book. And, of course, I love that it is set in the Czech Republic and that it takes the legend of Prague’s astronomical clock and twists it.
I will certainly read the rest of the Kronos Chronicles.
Click here to buy The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski