This book was put into my hands by a colleague who said that it was a much buzzed about title. The cover was cute enough to get my attention, and since I knew I was going away for the weekend, it was perfect timing as well.
Petra's father has just been returned home from the Prince's castle broken, bandaged and bloody. She cannot understand what has happened. Her father was to go to Prague to build a beautiful clock for Prince Rodolfo...what could have made the Prince steal her father's eyes, of all things?
Petra knows that she must get her father's eyes back for him. He needs them in order to work and support his family. He is, after all, a magician when it comes to metal, and besides regular things like clocks, he has made a virtual zoo of animals out of tin. Petra's own pet spider Astrophil was made by her father. Astrophil not only moves independently, but he can also talk to Petra. She keeps him up in her hair, and consults with him on many matters.
Petra comes up with a plan to go to Prague and work at the castle. She figures that she will be able to steal her father's eyes back. What she doesn't count on is Prague itself. She comes from the country side, and it is not very long before she is pursuing a gypsy boy (Roma) who has stolen her purse. As fate would have it, she catches Neel, and is soon befriended by his family. She quickly finds out that her father's magic is not the only kind of magic. The Roma have many different types of magic themselves. With the help of Neel's sister, Petra is soon in the castle, and that much closer to her goal of finding her father's eyes.
What will happen if she gets them? Prince Rodolfo is a vengeful man, and while Petra is only thinking of her father, she is certainly not thinking of the long term.
Marie Rutkoski has penned a magical tale filled with adventure, fantasy, exploration, and drama. I do admit, I had a slow start. The mechanics of the metal animals did not grab me at first. Once Petra was on the road, however, I was hooked. Petra is strong willed and clever, and Neel and his family add intrigue and danger to Petra's adventure. Astrophil is endearing and a scene stealer himself. As a reader I found myself both disappointed and excited about the subtitle of "The Kronos Chronicles: Book I". Sometimes I yearn for stand alone stories...I am a bit impatient that way. The Cabinet of Wonders certainly gallops toward the end, and readers will anxiously await the next installment. An equal opportunity read that will be eagerly snatched up by girls and boys alike.