Review/ Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head

Review/ Curiosity House: The Shrunken HeadCuriosity House: The Shrunken Head by Benjamin Lacombe, H.C. Chester, Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on May 3, 2016
Pages: 384

The book is about, among other things: the strongest boy in the world, a talking cockatoo, a faulty mind reader, a beautiful bearded lady and a nervous magician, an old museum, and a shrunken head.
Blessed with extraordinary abilities, orphans Philippa, Sam, and Thomas have grown up happily in Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders. But when a fourth child, Max, a knife-thrower, joins the group, it sets off an unforgettable chain of events.
When the museum's Amazonian shrunken head is stolen, the four are determined to get it back. But their search leads them to a series of murders and an explosive secret about their pasts. This sensational new series combines the unparalleled storytelling gifts of Lauren Oliver with the rich knowledge of the notorious relics collector H. C. Chester.
What you will find in this book:
A rather attractive bearded lady Several scandalous murders A deliciously disgusting Amazonian shrunken head Four extraordinary children with equally extraordinary abilities A quite loquacious talking birdWhat you will NOT find in this book:
An accountant named Seymour A never-ending line at the post office Brussels sprouts (shudder) A lecture on finishing all your homework on time A sweet, gooey story for nice little girls and boys

“Curiosity House – The Shrunken Head” by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester was a fantastic read after having watched the movie, “The Greatest Showman.”  For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see this movie in the theatre, you must do whatever you can to see it.  The movie has a magnificent storyline, great acting, and wonderful music that I now play on the piano.  It is not a chick flick.  In fact, my whole family enjoyed the movie for individual reasons, including my hubby.  He even listens to the CD in the car on his way to work in the morning.  He says, “It pumps me up and motivates me.”  Without giving too much away, the movie covers the life of P.T Barnum and how he came from little, followed his passion, and created the magnificent.  The message I felt from the movie is that the performers, or freaks as they were referred, being so different from ourselves, the viewers, are people too. They need a place and a family to belong.  It is what humanity deserves. Not just in the movies!

 “Curiosity House – The Shrunken Head,” the first in its series by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester, has just as powerful storyline, strange oddities gathered from all over the world, performers that will amaze, and children with special talents.  However, in this story, it is the children who steal the show.  Thomas, Pippa, Sam, and Max call Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, home.  No one else would have them, not even their own parents.  Orphaned at different times in their lives, these children feel like they belong.  They are not freaks, perhaps misunderstood.  Simply different than others around them.

Once a Shrunken head from Amazonia is stolen, things take a turn for the worse.  Murder, betrayal, and the fear of losing the only place they know as home.  To save the only man who has shown them some resemblance of family life, and to keep the museum open, Thomas, Pippa, Sam, and Max put their thinking and physical wits to the test while following the clues to solving this mystery.   They soon realize that no one is who they say they are and that more often than not, people wear Halloween masks to disguise their real selves.

 I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of this book. If I wasn’t immersed in trying to guess “who dunnit,” I was squeezing through air vents with Thomas, or escaping the clutches of the lady with the feather hat or learning about the unusual artifacts displayed throughout the museum.  Humility sprinkled with humour keeps the story moving forward without taking away from the complexity of back-stabbing and the macabre.

Whether you are a fan of the movie “The Greatest Showman,” a connoisseur of oddities and artifacts, a spectator at the circus, or if mystery and murder is right up your alley, this is the book for you.