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The Cabinet of Curiosities [Paperback]

Paul Dowswell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Feb 2011
When Lukas Declercq is orphaned, his uncle summons him to Prague, a refuge for Europe's greatest alchemists and natural philosophers, offering to take him on as an apprentice. Uncle Anselmus is court physician to Rudolph II, the reclusive and unstable Emperor. He is also curator of Rudolph's bizarre Cabinet of Curiosities, a series of vast rooms stuffed with wonders and scientific marvels such as a nail from Noah's Ark, phoenix feathers and monstrous freaks of nature, which fascinate Lukas.

As Rudolph retreats further into his fantasy world, the threat of rebellion hangs in the air. Dorantes, a diplomat from Spain, comes with his daughter, Celestina, on a mission from Philip II to persuade Rudolph to give up his heretical ways. But he discovers the court is full of diplomats who have been waiting months or years for an audience with the Emperor. Dorantes notices how some had wormed their way into the Emperor's favour by presenting him with fantastic gifts for his Cabinet, and sets about creating a device that he says will stop time. But it works only in the presence of the Emperor.

Lukas knows the terrible truth behind Dorantes's mission. But sinister forces have plans for Lukas too, and before he can thwart the plot against the Emperor, Lukas must gamble on Celestina's loyalty in order to save his own life.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens (7 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408800454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408800454
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 636,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Praise for Auslander:

'Dowswell is one of the best new writers of historical fiction for children . . . [Ausländer] steps outside the victim culture of novels such as those by Morris Gleitzman and comes close to classics such as The Silver Sword' (The Times)

'This gripping and dramatic story is well-placed to conquer any prejudice that teenage readers might have against historical novels . . . a powerful and compelling story' (School Librarian)

Praise for The Cabinet of Curiosities:

'This is one of the most enjoyable, breathtaking, historical books I have read and gives a real feel for the time period in which it is set. I recommend this book for teenagers and adults' (South Wales Argus)

'A gripping read which I thoroughly recommend' (First News)

Book Description

A gripping, fantastical adventure set against the enthralling backdrop of ancient Bohemia, from the critically acclaimed author of Ausländer

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting historical adventure story 1 Sep 2012
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This is a historical adventure story based in the city of Prague during turbulent times where the terrors of the Inquisition were rife, and people jostled for favour at court, playing deadly games to keep in favour and not risk their necks in the torture chamber. The historical aspect of the book is well handled. The author brings the city of Prague to life vividly, and builds a beautifully tense atmosphere throughout the book. I found it slightly disappointing as far as the main character Lukas was concerned. His initial journey to the city, which he makes with a young, quick witted friend he meets under terrible circumstances kind of promise a lot for their relationship which really just tails off as soon as he gets to Prague. There was much more scope to develop the friendship and give Lukas more of a rounded character which the author didn't really do. The book felt like it might be the first in a series, although the adventure is a stand alone. I hope he does write more, because it felt at times like this book was a kind of warm up for the main event to come.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Cabinet of curiosities 22 Feb 2011
Format:Hardcover
I wasn't sure if this book would be my kind of thing but it totally was and not for the reasons I would have expected.

This book follows the story of Lukas an orphaned boy who has moved to Prague to apprentice with his Uncle, the Emperor's physician. To start with I have to admit I was not gripped by the story. It starts following him as he makes his way to visit his uncle and I started to lose interest.

Once he met his Uncle however I was hooked. I teach the history of Medicin...moreI wasn't sure if this book would be my kind of thing but it totally was and not for the reasons I would have expected.

This book follows the story of Lukas an orphaned boy who has moved to Prague to apprentice with his Uncle, the Emperor's physician. To start with I have to admit I was not gripped by the story. It starts following him as he makes his way to visit his uncle and I started to lose interest.

Once he met his Uncle however I was hooked. I teach the history of Medicine and I have never read a YA book which looks at medical practices from the past. I loved seeing how Lukas's Uncle used the medicine of the day to treat the Emperor. It really brought home the fact that despite the great discoveries and break throughs in medicine that were going on during the Renaissance, not a lot actually changed day to day in the practice of medicine. People were still treated using high supersitious and flawed methods dating back to Ancint times. This is the main reason why I will be recommending this book in the future to people as I found this side of it fascinating.

Once I got this far into the book I started to find it a lot more engaging and the pace of it picked up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An almost magical historical fiction visit 7 Feb 2011
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Historical fiction is a tough gig for a young adult writer and an even tougher one to get right. After all you have to get a lot of detail right and back it up with enough of a plotline to get away without major info dumps to the reader. What Paul Dowswell does extremely well in this book is hook the reader in the first few pages and manages to bring a familiarity alongside a principle hero to the fore that the reader cannot help but like and enjoy his exploits as the world (as well as timeline) in which he lives is explored with eyes of wonderment.

It is was written, the characters crisp and above all else it's a tale that will only hook more readers in with its friendly writing style, great prose and a wonderful almost magical style that allows some authorly slight of hand that the reader won't believe they've missed by the titles conclusion. A great read and a book that will definitely have me seeking out more by this author.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting read. 13 July 2010
By Wren
Format:Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book and read it very quickly. It's an exciting thriller based in the magical city of Prague. It evokes this period in history very vividly. Hard to put down until you've finished it.
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