Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

You would think it would be impossible to find anything new in the world, creatures no man has ever seen before, one-of-a-kind oddities in which nature has taken a backseat to the coursing pulse of the fantastical and the marvelous.

The first fifteen pages are in italics which is annoying and hard to read for me. I'm turned off just like that. But I ignore the italics, which are there, I suppose, either to stress the first fifteen pages and/or make them stand out as special, more special than what comes after which is not in italics. But there are other sections throughout the book in italics so one must assume that the sections in italics are about some other person, are diary entries, or take place in a different time and space etc. from the the rest of the book. Whatever.

As for the sentence itself, of course there are some things that we are still learning about, like some weird deep-water fish that's discovered and looks like the devil's offspring, so I tend to disagree with this line. On the other hand, those who don't read odd news, might agree with this line. Most likely one would have to in order to allow oneself to be pulled into this. Okay, so weirdness exists. But I'm still not hooked. Next line:

I can tell you with certainty that such things exist, for beneath the water there are beasts as huge as elephants with hundreds of legs, and in the skies, rocks thrown alit from the heavens burn through the bright air and fall to earth.

With the date of 1862, we learn why this is all possible. Then we get into back story and family history. As the premise for this novel has already been revealed early on page 1, it is interesting to read about this family whose father is both magician and scientist. This holds my attention for a while but then things get a little too mundane to bother reading on, things like Coney Island history, parks, housekeepers and electricity coming to town, and other descriptive tidbits.

First things said:

"Keep walking"

I like the title, and with the byline hook this should stand tall on the bookstore shelf or display stand.

Verdict: Pass (barely)

Theodore Moracht

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