Monday, July 24, 2017

Curiosity House #1: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester

The Shrunken Head (The Curiosity House, #1)My name is Thomas, and the new shrunken head exhibit has brought all kinds of trouble to us. It's been stolen, and there have been three unexpected deaths surrounding it; the last two victims were murdered. Now, Mr. Dumfrey says we're running out of money and may lose our home here at the Odditorium, plus the police have arrested him for Mr. Potts' murder! The police aren't even looking for the shrunken head or other suspects, so it's up to Pippa, Sam, Max, and I to solve the mysteries. Trouble seems to pop up wherever we go, and a reporter is implying we're responsible. The guy seems nice enough, and Mr. Dumfrey doesn't seem too worried about him. However, people in the public now recognize us as we search for clues, and it's making our investigation more difficult. The attention usually isn't good. And what about this Dr. Rattigan who's escaped from prison? Is it a coincidence he escaped at the same time our problems began?

This book is the first in a series. The charm of the story can be found in the children and their exceptional abilities. Thomas can bend his body into unbelievable positions, Pippa can kind of read minds, Max has a talent for knife throwing, and Sam is super strong. Thomas is the thinker, Max is more impulsive, and Pippa is the voice of reason. The book is a mystery with the kids being the amateur detectives. The plot meanders along with several deaths, numerous suspects, and a sense there's more going on than meets the eye. In fact, there are several things going on, and not all of them are bad. It's not until very late in the book that the author reveals the second, and perhaps more important, problem. The clues of the two main conflicts overlap throughout the book, so it's not always easy to separate them. It helps make the plot interesting, but it's a little distracting. The mystery wasn't overly compelling or attention-grabbing, and the stolen head was fairly minor. Overall, it's a good story, but I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel.

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