The English Teen, The Freaks
And The Plague
HOW DO I START THIS REVIEW? I am almost at a loss; can I do this novel justice? When I started this novel I did not think I would be able to finish it; by the time I had read chapter one I knew this book had huge possibilities. By the time I was half through chapter two, I was engrossed in this fascinating book. WHAT A STORY, KUDOS MS. WOOD, KUDOS!
Kitty Hayward’s life has taken an unexpected turn. She is in America fresh off a South African ship, her mother is ill, she is sent by the doctor for medicine. When she returns, Kitty is turned out of the hotel; she returns to threats and denials of knowing of her or her mother. She finds herself sitting on a park bench for days without food, lodging, or money. Befriended by Archie, an unnatural/con man/freak of Coney Island, she ends up at Magruders Curiosity Cabinet.
Things are going along as usual on Coney Island at the Curiosity Cabinet, but something is happening just under the surface. Rats are dying in the streets, people are coughing everywhere and becoming very ill very fast, and the freaks of Coney Island are in the middle of the crisis.
Join Kitty and the gang of freak/unusuals of Coney Island as they fight for their way life and their very lives.
CHARACTERS, PLOTTING, DEVELOPMENT:
Ms. Wood has created an intense book filled with unusual characters and a fascinating story-line. Coney Island is home to people who are different from the norm also known as freaks, carnie, unusuals. Theirs is a close community of people earning a living in various ways on the island from amusement rides and con games to Magruders Curiosity Cabinet. They call themselves “unusuals” and the rest of the world population, “dozens”, as in “a dime a dozen”. They are looked down upon by the world that in turn loves to laugh and gawk at them and the way they are forced to earn a wage. People that were not the stated normal had few options in this time period. Kitty, the English teen, finds refuge with this cast of misfits.
Ms. Wood crafted many fascinating characters for this book, some you will love and others you will love to hate. Whether you are a “dozen” or “unusual”, Ms. Wood shows we all have the ability for despicable characteristics and deeds as well as immense sacrifice and caring.
Ms. Wood infused her characters with intense emotions and as we travel in Ms. Wood’s world we find people with moral fiber and sense of family. You will find Rosalind who’s personality is half male, half female who dresses as both at the same time or one or other at other times. Then you have the midgets, Kitty the English teen, Spencer the Senator’s son, Zeph the legless Negro, the giant, Whitey the midget fire chief of Lilliputia, Doc Timur the genius inventor, Nazan the frustrated scientist in a woman’s body and a man’s world, Enzo the disfigured fireworks expert, P-Ray the dark-skinned silent child and many more.
Ms. Wood skillfully and in-depth developed each character portraying their strengths and weaknesses with skill. Her portrayal of the world of the “unusuals” was enlightening. Through her writing, you see them as people not freaks or monsters. Her descriptions were so vivid I could see the horrific scenes, feel the confusion, pain and helplessness, as well the friendship, love, and sense of family between the characters.
The plot was masterfully developed as Ms. Wood wove the threads of this story together to form an intriguing novel with characters revolving around the centerpieces of plague, injustice, bigotry, man’s inhumanity to man, greed, prejudice and family not related by blood but circumstance and feeling. This book will make you think.
RECOMMENDATION: 5 STARS
This is not a book for children or the immature due to the subject matter. I highly recommend this book the reader who enjoys a well-written solid story. I expect to see great things from Ms. Wood. I look forward to her next work.
I received this book from Netgalley.com in return for an honest book review. Book reviews of any novel are dependent on the book review author’s opinion; book reviews on line and on my blog, are my opinion.
Ms. Wood’s website contains a vast amount of information about the large amusement park on Coney Island, its history and how it was developed. I was amazed by the facts, photos, and music that she has included.