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Curious Toys

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The year is 1915 and Pin, the fifteen year-old daughter of an amusement park fortune teller, disguises herself as a boy to run with the teenage boys who thrive in the dregs of Chicago's street scene. Unbeknownst to the well-heeled city-dwellers and visitors who come to enjoy its attractions, Riverview Park is also host to a brutal serial killer, a perfumed pedophile who The year is 1915 and Pin, the fifteen year-old daughter of an amusement park fortune teller, disguises herself as a boy to run with the teenage boys who thrive in the dregs of Chicago's street scene. Unbeknownst to the well-heeled city-dwellers and visitors who come to enjoy its attractions, Riverview Park is also host to a brutal serial killer, a perfumed pedophile who uses the secrecy of a dark amusement park ride to conduct his crimes. When Pin sees a man enter the Hell Gate ride with a young girl, and leave without her, she knows that something deadly is afoot. The crime will lead her to the iconic outsider artist Henry Darger, a brilliant but seemingly mad man obsessed with his illustrated novel about a group of young girls who triumph over adult oppressors. Together, the two navigate the seedy underbelly of a changing city to uncover a murderer few even know to look for.


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The year is 1915 and Pin, the fifteen year-old daughter of an amusement park fortune teller, disguises herself as a boy to run with the teenage boys who thrive in the dregs of Chicago's street scene. Unbeknownst to the well-heeled city-dwellers and visitors who come to enjoy its attractions, Riverview Park is also host to a brutal serial killer, a perfumed pedophile who The year is 1915 and Pin, the fifteen year-old daughter of an amusement park fortune teller, disguises herself as a boy to run with the teenage boys who thrive in the dregs of Chicago's street scene. Unbeknownst to the well-heeled city-dwellers and visitors who come to enjoy its attractions, Riverview Park is also host to a brutal serial killer, a perfumed pedophile who uses the secrecy of a dark amusement park ride to conduct his crimes. When Pin sees a man enter the Hell Gate ride with a young girl, and leave without her, she knows that something deadly is afoot. The crime will lead her to the iconic outsider artist Henry Darger, a brilliant but seemingly mad man obsessed with his illustrated novel about a group of young girls who triumph over adult oppressors. Together, the two navigate the seedy underbelly of a changing city to uncover a murderer few even know to look for.

19 review for Curious Toys

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway win! An intrepid young woman who dresses like a boy, stalks a murderer through a turn of the century Chicago amusement park. Curious Toys is my first Elizabeth Hand novel but it will not be my last. I would have finished this weeks ago had I not fallen into a deep reading slump. I didn't want to pick this book up until I was in the proper mood to enjoy it. Curious Toys mixes fictional characters with real life people. One real "character's" reveal will make you want to read this book all Giveaway win! An intrepid young woman who dresses like a boy, stalks a murderer through a turn of the century Chicago amusement park. Curious Toys is my first Elizabeth Hand novel but it will not be my last. I would have finished this weeks ago had I not fallen into a deep reading slump. I didn't want to pick this book up until I was in the proper mood to enjoy it. Curious Toys mixes fictional characters with real life people. One real "character's" reveal will make you want to read this book all over again. Curious Toys is creepy and fun. Elizabeth Hand created a wonderfully imaginative world. It was atmospheric, unsettling and dark. I recommend Curious Toys to lovers of Historical Fiction and readers who like books that are weird in the best possible way.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    5 Stars. 5 BIG Stars! Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand. Release day: October 15th, 2019 With this atmospheric historical thriller, Elizabeth Hand conquers another genre and makes it her own. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, modern mystery… and now she proves to be a master at the historical. The story is set in 1915 Chicago, taking place mostly at an amusement park (Riverview) and the Essanay movie studio and centers around Pin Maffuci (formerly Vivian Onofrio) a 14 year old girl disguised as a boy 5 Stars. 5 BIG Stars! Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand. Release day: October 15th, 2019 With this atmospheric historical thriller, Elizabeth Hand conquers another genre and makes it her own. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, modern mystery… and now she proves to be a master at the historical. The story is set in 1915 Chicago, taking place mostly at an amusement park (Riverview) and the Essanay movie studio and centers around Pin Maffuci (formerly Vivian Onofrio) a 14 year old girl disguised as a boy because of the safety concerns of her mother after her sister disappeared earlier, Henry Darger a (real life) artist/writer of questionable mental stability, and a pedophile serial killer who is killing young girls and stealing their clothes (for a purpose I won't divulge here). Along with Darger, Hand also incorporates other real life characters throughout the novel like, Charlie Chaplin, Wallace Berry, Gloria Swanson, etc. A lot of writers of historical mysteries don't quite get the feel of the time period they're writing, but here Hand knocks it out of the park. Every time I read a blurb that compares a book to The Alienist, I think – yeah OK – but Curious Toys more than deserves that comparison. The period detail is masterfully rendered. With beautiful linear prose, a great plot meted out with perfect pacing racing to an exciting climax, and a one chapter wrap up that takes place 62 years later, Elizabeth Hand has produced another winner. This could be Elizabeth Hand's breakout book. For years she's received accolades and awards and she really deserves a wider readership. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and get to know this brilliant writer, you won't be sorry. The only drawback of this novel is that it looks to be a stand alone and I would love more Pin.

  3. 5 out of 5

    ABookwormWithWine

    / 5 Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand was a very peculiar book, both in content and writing style. I've never read anything like it and I'm not sure if that helped or hindered me liking it in this case. Curious Toys is full of short, punchy chapters which I really liked. There were quite a few different viewpoints which I didn't quite understand the point of, and I think there could have been fewer to build more suspicion and mystery. However, I definitely didn't see the end coming and it ⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand was a very peculiar book, both in content and writing style. I've never read anything like it and I'm not sure if that helped or hindered me liking it in this case. Curious Toys is full of short, punchy chapters which I really liked. There were quite a few different viewpoints which I didn't quite understand the point of, and I think there could have been fewer to build more suspicion and mystery. However, I definitely didn't see the end coming and it completely surprised me! This is a great whodunnit with a fun historical aspect that made things interesting. I spent much of this book Googling different things to learn more about them (and to see if certain things were actually real!). I loved Pin, she was headstrong, smart and spunky which was pretty impressive for her age. Plus being able to pull off dressing like a boy and having people believe her! But due to the writing style I don't think I was really able to connect to any of the characters all that much including her. Lots of dark themes in Curious Toys, and some of it was quite disturbing. This book is definitely dark! Final Thought: This was my first time reading a book by this author and I can't honestly say if I want to read another. I think I would give it a chance though to see if I could hopefully connect to her next book better. The synopsis sounded awesome, but Curious Toys didn't hold my attention very well until I was over halfway done. It's not going to be for everyone, but I definitely recommend checking it out for yourself!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    From the decadent, dystopian science fiction of her debut novel, Winterlong; to the immersive magic of her art world fantasies like Mortal Love; to the harsh, earthy, crystalline landscapes of her Cass Neary suspense novels; Elizabeth Hand’s ouevre is as dark, sensuous and edgy as anything out there. I keep a copy of Hand’s short story collection, Errantry, beside my desk to give me something to aim for with my own fiction. It’s a bar so high that not many writers reach it more than a few times From the decadent, dystopian science fiction of her debut novel, Winterlong; to the immersive magic of her art world fantasies like Mortal Love; to the harsh, earthy, crystalline landscapes of her Cass Neary suspense novels; Elizabeth Hand’s ouevre is as dark, sensuous and edgy as anything out there. I keep a copy of Hand’s short story collection, Errantry, beside my desk to give me something to aim for with my own fiction. It’s a bar so high that not many writers reach it more than a few times in their lifetimes, but Elizabeth Hand has pretty much resided there throughout her 20+ book career-to-date. So when I received an advance reading copy of her upcoming book, Curious Toys through a Goodreads draw, I was over the moon. After reading it obsessively over the next few days, and raving about it to friends, family and co-workers, I have finished it, thought about it, and am ready to declare it one of her best. In this convincing evocation of early 20th century Chicago, 14 year old Pin, a girl who lives her life as a boy, resides in a shack with her mother, who works as an amusement park fortune teller. A peripheral member of a gang of boys that works out of the amusement park, Pin delivers dope for Max, the carnival’s half-man, half-woman, on a route that includes Essanay Movie Studio, where Charlie Chaplin and Wallace Beery are among the stars. When Pin uncovers a murder of a young girl on one of the attractions, the wrong person gets charged, and there is only one other witness to help Pin set things right – an exceeding strange, child obsessed young man named Henry Darger (yes, the outsider artist, not all that long after his release from the notorious Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children) who is eager to become Pin’s partner in solving the crime. But Darger’s behaviour has Pin wondering whether he is really a witness – or is actually implicated in the crimes. As more murders follow, the tension grows – and Pin is in the centre of everything – not just the child murders themselves, but the mutual attraction between her and a young actress named Glory; the strained relationship with her mother, complicated by her budding relationship with ex-cop/amusement park guard Francis “Fatty” Bacon; and the erratic, pedophilia tinged behaviour of Darger. Although set in 1914, Curious Toys is very much a novel of our time. Sexual ambiguity is an important and effective motif that runs from beginning to end of the book, heightening the resonance and poignancy of everything that occurs. Evocative, multilayered, exciting, and accessible to fans of mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction and anyone looking for a great read, Curious Toys could be a break-out 30 years in the making. At the very least, Liz Hand should win another bucketful of awards – maybe even a Lambda this time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I REALLY want to read this Bc what will I do without historical fiction murder investigations when i am finished with capturing the devil (stalking Jack the Ripper #4)?! Only issue is... it quite literally gave away the killer in said book in this blurb... I think. Unless... well why would they do THAT ?! Defeats the purpose. So confused. Slightly annoyed. Lol

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Hixson

    Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand is an interesting Historical Fiction mixed with a mystery. The story takes place in 1915 Fair grounds in Chicago about twenty years after the World's Fire fire and the serial killer H.H. Holmes, with it's own serial killer to deal with. The history is a big part I was constantly reminded of the nonfiction work The Devil in the White City which covered the 1893 Chicago's World's Fair. The history and the rides at the time were really neat, The book only covers one Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand is an interesting Historical Fiction mixed with a mystery. The story takes place in 1915 Fair grounds in Chicago about twenty years after the World's Fire fire and the serial killer H.H. Holmes, with it's own serial killer to deal with. The history is a big part I was constantly reminded of the nonfiction work The Devil in the White City which covered the 1893 Chicago's World's Fair. The history and the rides at the time were really neat, The book only covers one in detail Hellsgate ride I could almost imagine it. The book is LGTBG friendly with it's lead character Pin who is a girl who lives as a boy and struggles with her feelings about girls and one girl in particular Glory. I have not read a great amount of LGTBQ books but I found this one really nailed the questioning of ones self. A special thanks to Netgalley and Mulholland Books for giving me a copy, Curious Toys was published on October 15 2019. The Plot: Pin is a 14 year old girl who lives as a boy, it started for safety but she likes it and prefers it, her mother is a fortune teller at the fair. The both live on a shack on the fair grounds. Two years's ago Pin's sister was lost, she had a form of down syndrome, and has never been found. Pin runs drugs for Max, a he/she act where one side is a man and the other a woman. Pin is always curious and noticing things adults don't she is sensitive to young girls and strangers. She watches a young girl in a yellow dress get into a ride with a man and never get out, the man she doesn't get a good look but is sure what she's seen. She sneaks into ride and discovers a body. Pin is the only one who cares as the body brings even more people to check out the ride and the fair, Pin is willing to risk her life but she might have to risk something more important to her identity. What I Liked: Pin as a character was fascinating, wish we spent more time with her, and her crisis. I liked the little twist with Glory and who she turned out to be. I liked the Charlie Chaplin bit especially the bit about the cops questioning him being ashamed at the way they are portrayed in his movies. I liked the climax it was pretty exciting. The killer was good the reader was left to fill in a lot of their reasons for the crimes. I did like the flashback of the killer, even at the time reading it you didn't know who's flashback it was. I did like the Fatty Bacon cop character and the date scene he had. I love, loved, the part about Pin wanting to expose the killer put to do it in a way she could keep her identity as being a boy, I found that really powerful. I liked the language and found it fitting of the time period. This was one of the coolest covers with all the images about the book is has, it was one of the reasons I selected to request this novel form netgalley. What I Disliked: The character of Henry Darger I didn't care for a hospital janitor that isn't all there, slightly crazy, that looks out for young girls and has a club protecting them. His character was not needed and it kept the reader away from Pin. I would have liked his character a little more if his slight bio was at the beginning instead of at the end. I didn't like that the story jumped around having 7 different character's narratives. Pin, the killer and maybe one more character was all you needed, though I did like being in Charlie Chaplin's head briefly it didn't serve a narrative purpose and could been in the newspaper. I figured out who the killer was early, I saw where the novel was pulling me and saw through the misdirection. There was not that many possible suspects, so I found it easy to make the leap. I wanted better descriptions of all the people and things it keeps talking about boater hats, which I had to look up to know what they looked look then see it in the words on the page. Recommendation: I would mildly recommend this to a reader searching for a LGTBQ character in the early 1900's and the questioning of one's self and identity was really good. If you like historical fiction of the early 1900's, I love Charlie Chaplin and found that part fascinating, as the description of the Hellsgate amusement park ride. I rated this novel 3 out of 3 stars. I found there were some really great moment and some not so great moments that it balanced out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    4.5, rounded up. How one feels about this story would depend a great deal, I would think, on how much one knows of, and appreciates, the life and work of real life outsider artist Henry Darger. I first became aware of, and admittedly obsessed with him, upon hearing Natalie Merchant's gorgeous 2001 song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zt2x.... I subsequently bought several volumes on his art (some of which are now OOP and selling for four figures!) Anyway, when I heard about this 4.5, rounded up. How one feels about this story would depend a great deal, I would think, on how much one knows of, and appreciates, the life and work of real life outsider artist Henry Darger. I first became aware of, and admittedly obsessed with him, upon hearing Natalie Merchant's gorgeous 2001 song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zt2x.... I subsequently bought several volumes on his art (some of which are now OOP and selling for four figures!) Anyway, when I heard about this mystery/thriller which features Darger in a major role, I was in. In one sense, this is really just a (really well done) genre thriller/mystery, but the care Hand exhibits in getting all the details just right elevates it in my estimation. And the fact that the real Darger was briefly considered to be a pedophiliac murderer of young girls, based upon the more disturbing elements of his art, just adds an extra fillip to the proceedings. Even if one isn't all that interested in Darger, there is enough here for fans of turn of the century historical fiction or the early days of cinema (other real life characters include Charlie Chaplin, Louella Parsons, Ben(nie) Hecht, 'Wally' Beery ... and another famous silent film star who is only revealed in the final pages ... so I won't spoil it!) to warrant a gander. However, to get the most out of this, it would be prudent to at least read through Darger's Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_D...), and also take a look at one or both of the documentaries about him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjCS_... and Jessica Yu's award-winning one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRlvD.... PS ... is it just me, or is this one of the ugliest cover designs imaginable?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Areve

    Curious Toys brings you back into the progressive era of 1900s with a great atmosphere of carnivals, serial killer and a heart-skipping adventure of a kid. The book was fun to read, the author gives the readers a fantastic and crafted narration. She instilled an almost real feeling that I’m taking part of the adventure with the characters and visualizing the setting of Chicago in the 1900s with elements of the past which is an edge from other historical mystery writers. The mystery in the book Curious Toys brings you back into the progressive era of 1900s with a great atmosphere of carnivals, serial killer and a heart-skipping adventure of a kid. ✔️The book was fun to read, the author gives the readers a fantastic and crafted narration. She instilled an almost real feeling that I’m taking part of the adventure with the characters and visualizing the setting of Chicago in the 1900s with elements of the past which is an edge from other historical mystery writers. ✔️The mystery in the book had caught me dumb-founded. [ My term for someone who didn’t find out who the serial killer is in the end ] The book will help you with given clues, old police procedurals and serial killer backgrounds but I bet you won’t be able to stop turning the pages until you make sure of your guess and finding that it is twisted all along. ✔️A quick mystery & adventure novel which will satisfy your fascination with serial killers and crime fiction. All five stars for this. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5 stars Big thanks to @mulhollandbooks for giving this to me in exchange for an honest review. ❤️🙌🏻

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    I abandoned the story at page 303 out of 365. Even at the denouement it was like trudging through a flood of molasses to make it through a page and I finally just asked myself why I was bothering to force my way through a book just because it seemed like something I should enjoy. Never would have imagined that a story involving serial killers and turn-of-the-century amusement parks could be so dull. A ridiculously large and not well-developed cast of characters is inexpertly juggled in a story I abandoned the story at page 303 out of 365. Even at the denouement it was like trudging through a flood of molasses to make it through a page and I finally just asked myself why I was bothering to force my way through a book just because it seemed like something I should enjoy. Never would have imagined that a story involving serial killers and turn-of-the-century amusement parks could be so dull. A ridiculously large and not well-developed cast of characters is inexpertly juggled in a story that probably wants to be epic, but is just scattershot and limp. Yearns to be a sort of 'Ragtime' meets 'Devil in the White City.' Forgets to be any good.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jess Tunstall

    I was lucky enough to win an advanced reader copy of this book from the goodreads giveaways. Truthfully, it did take a little to get into but once I got past the first 50 pages it started getting MUCH better. After that, the further into it I got, the better the story got! I was confused at the length of the chapters at first (short chapters) but came to realize that every chapter was related to different characters. It’s a great story with crime, mystery, suspense and history (although I was lucky enough to win an advanced reader copy of this book from the goodreads giveaways. Truthfully, it did take a little to get into but once I got past the first 50 pages it started getting MUCH better. After that, the further into it I got, the better the story got! I was confused at the length of the chapters at first (short chapters) but came to realize that every chapter was related to different characters. It’s a great story with crime, mystery, suspense and history (although fictional of course). It certainly kept me guessing and my predictions were all incorrect (lol). The author does well to take you back to 1915, fictional as it may be, there are a few mentions of nonfictional characters that really helps bring the reader into the era of the story. There are a few typos throughout the book, though this could be because it’s the advanced reader version. I will definitely recommend this book to the members of my book club. Thanks to the author for putting this on the giveaway page!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    With Curious Toys, Elizabeth Hand delivers a novel that is unlike her other work in some distinct ways, but that nevertheless showcases her remarkable talents as a writer. Everyone in Curious Toys has a secret. Everyone is presenting a intentional face to the world. In some of these characters, the face reflects their aspirations and deepest hopes. In others, it is a mask to hide something much darker within. Whether by choice or necessity, with good intentions of bad, the secrets interwoven with With Curious Toys, Elizabeth Hand delivers a novel that is unlike her other work in some distinct ways, but that nevertheless showcases her remarkable talents as a writer. Everyone in Curious Toys has a secret. Everyone is presenting a intentional face to the world. In some of these characters, the face reflects their aspirations and deepest hopes. In others, it is a mask to hide something much darker within. Whether by choice or necessity, with good intentions of bad, the secrets interwoven with secrets are as much a part of the texture of story and character in this novel as the literal details of the world and the people who fill it. At many times, it is a deeply uncomfortable world to experience. A central examination of the book is the viewing of girls as curious toys. This takes place in the scene-setting of the novel. The interactions of young boys and girls are set along side the behaviors of young men and women. These in turn are set alongside the behaviors of older men--in relation to both girls and women. These interactions range from "normal" to uncomfortable to predatory. Certainly not every relationship placed on the page is a harmful one, but Hand's paining of this world casts a light on questions of consent and autonomy, as girls are desired and obsessed over by those around them. And obsession with girls is a recurring element in the novel. For some, this is predatory in nature. But for the novel's two leads, it exists in other ways. The protagonist, Pin, exists in the world as neither fully a boy or a girl as she tries to determine her own future. Henry, meanwhile, in all his complexity, obsesses over understanding and protecting girls from the darker forces of the larger world. These false faces and deeper obsessions provide much of the substance and complexity which shape and drive the narrative. These pieces mix with questions about gender roles and expectations, social norms, and self-determination to form a novel that raises a lot of questions--but that does not attempt to reduce them down to simple answers. Along with these themes, Hand has created a richly-textured portrait of 1915 Chicago. The research that went into this novel is clear, but the facts never get in the way of story. This Chicago is not a pleasant place in many ways. It is dirty and flawed, segregated and shaped by crime and prejudice. But in the midst of all this, Hand deftly finds moments of rest and beauty, sincerity and humanity which counterbalance the grit and grime of a struggling world. All of this speaks to Hand's skill as a writer and allows the novel to stand apart as a true accomplishment--but theme and setting alone do not make a story. At the center of all Hand is accomplishing here, lie a core cast of characters and a chilling mystery. The novel unfolds on a broad scale--with Pin at its center, but following many of the players involved in the developing narrative. Some of them are sympathetic, some are distasteful, but Hand brings us alongside them and into their heads in a way that grounds the narrative, brings the characters to life, and creates understanding of the hopes and fears, loves and failings which define them. And to top it all off, Curious Toys is a murder mystery, and this as well is plotted and delivered with immense skill. Tensions are high from page one, and as murder follows murder and the stakes raise ever higher, the ability of Pin and the others to navigate this dark and twisting world become increasingly important. Hand's plotting drives the novel along with inescapable force, and she delivers twists and shocks at just the right moment for maximum impact--all leading to a bold conclusion which serves to wrap up the novel with great effect while lingering in the mind after the events of the narrative are over. Curious Toys is a masterful novel from an immensely talented author. Hand's passion and commitment to the story are clear throughout, and she has achieved a great deal on every level of this narrative. Reader beware, the world of Curious Toys is a dark one, and it is not easily walked away from, but it is ultimately a story of sincere humanity. It is a story that believes in good things amidst all the complexity and grime of a world full of secrets and prejudices. And with Hand's careful touch, the narrative never loses sight of the fact that evil can be fought, and people can walk out the other side--changed, but granted fresh understanding and on the way to better days.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    This historical thriller was fabulous, drawing on the life and work of a historical figure I wasn't aware of, mentally ill artist Henry Darger who drew and painted little white girls (a la Dorothy Gale in the Baum books) engaged in epic battle against forces of evil. Her protagonist is a boy named Pin, who was born a girl but never felt comfortable in that gender identity. His mother gives him permission to pass as a boy when they flee their old life, living in the slums of Chicago dominated by This historical thriller was fabulous, drawing on the life and work of a historical figure I wasn't aware of, mentally ill artist Henry Darger who drew and painted little white girls (a la Dorothy Gale in the Baum books) engaged in epic battle against forces of evil. Her protagonist is a boy named Pin, who was born a girl but never felt comfortable in that gender identity. His mother gives him permission to pass as a boy when they flee their old life, living in the slums of Chicago dominated by the Black Hand, the Sicilian mafia. They come to live at an amusement park, where Pin serves as a drug runner for one of the freak show performers. This creates a traffic (I suppose that word is appropriate!) between the production studios and the amusement park, and Hand emphasizes how much both contexts are dominated by a pedophilic imagination that sexualizes young girls (very young girls). One thing that made the book so disturbing is that Hand implies that pedophilia, though labeled as a form of social deviancy, is actually central to American popular culture and also behind-closed-doors power dynamics (think Jeffrey Epstein). Many characters--historical figures like Charlie Chaplin and Henry Darger and fictional figures like Lionel the screenwriter and Max the circus performer--express pedophilic desires when the narration enters their point of view. Hand frames the exploitation of young girls as omnipresent rather than errant, and she implies that the policing of gender roles and the institutionalization of patriarchy helps to create that dynamic. (Isn't it cool that she pulls that off, all the while spinning out an atmospheric historical mystery?) Hand winds up the "curious toy" of her plot until Pin must confront girlhood in all its vulnerability and also its institutional powerlessness. (Side note: the title actually refers to dolls and the creepiness of their affectless passivity, the pliancy that predatory men desire from girls.) But Pin is not powerless, and Hand has created a memorable character in this "small and sharp"protagonist.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Tucker

    Fantastic creepy mystery set in historical 1915 Chicago. You'll meet Henri Darger and Charlie Chaplin, learn about Harriet Quimby, and get caught up in the escapades of teenager Pin. I loved Hand's Cass Neary novels and it was great to see the photography themes spill over into this book, changed to 1915 technology and methods. Highly recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Smith

    The premise was interesting, and thus, I had great hopes when I started reading. Alas, about a third of the way in I thought I might not finish, but, since a friend whose opinion I respect and trust said some encouraging things, I did make my way through. My issue was that I never felt any real connection with or concern about any of the characters. Pin, the young girl who pretends to be a boy to stay safe in a dangerous world, was clearly meant to spur the reader's empathy. For me, she seemed an The premise was interesting, and thus, I had great hopes when I started reading. Alas, about a third of the way in I thought I might not finish, but, since a friend whose opinion I respect and trust said some encouraging things, I did make my way through. My issue was that I never felt any real connection with or concern about any of the characters. Pin, the young girl who pretends to be a boy to stay safe in a dangerous world, was clearly meant to spur the reader's empathy. For me, she seemed an idea rather than a flesh and blood character. And, as I said, the idea was promising, but, its execution left me cold.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cathie

    Enjoyed this - Chicago 1915 setting. Slightly annoyed in keeping up with the cast of characters.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vickie

    Books that detail the kidnapping and murder of young girls can be gruesome and heartbreaking. While my heart ached for Pin, the main character, I was not put off by this telling of a criminal who stalks and kills girls. In Curious Toys, the story is about more than murder. Pin is a 14-year-old girl who prefers to live as a boy—a decision supported by her mother since boys are safer than girls inside a 1915 Chicago amusement park. After witnessing the disappearance of one girl (and later Books that detail the kidnapping and murder of young girls can be gruesome and heartbreaking. While my heart ached for Pin, the main character, I was not put off by this telling of a criminal who stalks and kills girls. In Curious Toys, the story is about more than murder. Pin is a 14-year-old girl who prefers to live as a boy—a decision supported by her mother since boys are safer than girls inside a 1915 Chicago amusement park. After witnessing the disappearance of one girl (and later discovering her body), Pin is caught up in the investigation of the murders being committed; her efforts bring her into contact with the other key characters in the story—a park guard; the park’s She/Male performer; Pin’s actress-friend Glorie; and the strange Henry Darger who could be Pin’s ally or the criminal. The author weaves together fictional and non-fictional characters, a weaving that adds authenticity to the setting and time. As I read, I felt like I was meeting actual persons in an actual place. While the book is largely about the crimes being committed in the park—and the efforts to find the killer—it is also a story of Pin’s search for her own identity. Set against the masses of people who see only the cheerful façade of the park and not its unflattering truths, Pin must also learn to see beyond the illusions she has created in her life. I received the ARC in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to the publisher, Mulholland Books, for this opportunity to read such a wonderful story!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I was excited to receive a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway, because I was very intrigued by the description. A mystery set in a 1915 Chicago amusement park with a female protagonist who dresses as a boy is right up my alley. Overall, I felt like it met my expectations. Things I liked: - Pin, the protagonist. She was tough, clever and a person who was definitely ahead of her time. - The inclusion of real life historical figures Henry Darger (whom I had never heard of before), Charlie I was excited to receive a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway, because I was very intrigued by the description. A mystery set in a 1915 Chicago amusement park with a female protagonist who dresses as a boy is right up my alley. Overall, I felt like it met my expectations. Things I liked: - Pin, the protagonist. She was tough, clever and a person who was definitely ahead of her time. - The inclusion of real life historical figures Henry Darger (whom I had never heard of before), Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson. - The atmospheric nature of having an amusement park at the turn of the century as the setting for most of the story. Hand does a great job helping readers visualize this place, from things like cotton candy and rigged games to the seedier attractions at these venues. Parts of it are gritty, and that was just the reality of life back then. - The way the novel played on the dual sides of a person's identity, how nobody may be actually what they seem. Hand did this with many of the characters in this book, exploring gender and sexuality as well as psychosis/sanity. Things I didn't like: - The mystery could have had a bit more to it. I suppose we do learn about the killer's background and why he does what he does, but it's a bit nebulous. The cops in the book also do a bit of profiling, which was proooobably advanced for police techniques back then. It held my attention, kept me reading, and I was satisfied with the ending. I'd recommend it to people who like mysteries, particularly historical mysteries, and books with child protagonists.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    Few may remember it now, but in the early 20th century, Chicago was a hub for the burgeoning motion picture industry. Stars, screenwriters and sundry hangers-on converged on Essanay Studios on the city’s north side, where new movies were churned out weekly. During their downtime, they may have hopped the streetcar to Riverview Park, where they could enjoy all manner of entertainments, from taking a wild ride on the Velvet Coaster to gawking at the babies in the Infant Incubators. This is the Few may remember it now, but in the early 20th century, Chicago was a hub for the burgeoning motion picture industry. Stars, screenwriters and sundry hangers-on converged on Essanay Studios on the city’s north side, where new movies were churned out weekly. During their downtime, they may have hopped the streetcar to Riverview Park, where they could enjoy all manner of entertainments, from taking a wild ride on the Velvet Coaster to gawking at the babies in the Infant Incubators. This is the world that plucky 14-year-old Pin Maffucci, the hero of Elizabeth Hand’s CURIOUS TOYS, inhabits. Born a girl, she’s been living as a boy since her fortune-teller mother Gina took up residence at Riverview. Her disguise allows Pin to move about freely between the park and studio, hustling for the nickels and dimes that she can spend on an ice cream cone or a visit to the Comique to see the latest moving picture. Pin’s costume also keeps her safe, since “no one blinked to see a white boy…sauntering along the Golden Mile, or ducking in and out of theaters,” a particular concern since Pin’s younger sister vanished under mysterious circumstances at some point before the novel begins. But for Pin, her boy’s clothes mean something more --- they allow her to be more fully herself. “For as long as she could recall, this was all she wanted,” she thinks. “When she remembered her dreams, she recalled being neither girl nor boy, only flying, nothing between her skin and the wind.” Pin feels at home in the raucous world of the park, where her friends include Clyde, an African-American magician, and Max, the female impersonator (or “She-Male,” in the parlance of the times) for whom she works as a drug runner. But when she discovers the body of a murdered girl inside the Hell Gate ride, her world is upended. She forms an unlikely friendship with Henry Darger, an oddball janitor and the self-proclaimed president of the Gemini Child Protective Society. Together, they attempt to discover the killer’s identity. Hand’s vividly imagined mystery immerses readers in the gritty world of 1915 Chicago, where Victorian conventions are giving way to a more modern world. Riverview is a place where the forbidden flourishes, from the couples canoodling in the theater balconies to the stalls selling pornographic French postcards. For the richly drawn cast of outsiders and misfits in CURIOUS TOYS, it’s a place where they can live as they choose. Some, like Pin, are wholly fictional, while others, like outsider artist Darger, are real people. Hand cleverly imagines Darger’s friendship with Pin as an inspiration for his idiosyncratic epic fantasy, THE STORY OF THE VIVIAN GIRLS. A few chapters are told from Charlie Chaplin’s point of view. The actor --- then at the cusp of what would become worldwide fame --- is half-heartedly presented as a suspect, due to his flirtatious behavior with a teenage extra at Essanay who later turns up dead. But his presence is mostly an unnecessary distraction and seems like an opportunity for the author to demonstrate the extent of her meticulous research. A more interesting drawn-from-life character is a young Gloria Swanson, a teenage actress on the verge of stardom and an object of fascination to Pin. Newspaperman Ben Hecht and actor Wallace Beery also make appearances, and the text is peppered with references to serial killer H.H. Holmes and the Eastland disaster. Hand’s characters are fascinating, and the mystery at the novel’s core is both compelling and creepy, especially when she presents some of the murders from the killer’s point of view. (The “curious toys” of the title refers to both the murderer’s life-size doll that he dresses in his victims’ clothing and the way society treats girls in general.) Pin is a young person coming into herself, who knows how she feels but lacks the vocabulary to articulate her desires. And she’s constantly bumping up against the limitations that society places on women and girls. Tellingly, both she and future star Swanson share a fascination with pioneering aviatrix Harriet Quimby, who broke with convention as the first female pilot in America. Hand fully exploits the narrative possibilities of her setting, immersing readers in the colorful, vibrant world of Riverview. As a result, CURIOUS TOYS never lacks for atmosphere, though the story sometimes sags under the author’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach. Amusement parks have always married a sense of fun with a sense of danger, and that’s certainly the case in Hand’s Chicago, where peril --- and possibility --- lurks around every corner. Reviewed by Megan Elliott

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tammy V

    I picked this up from the library based on a review and the fact I remember reading Hand's "Waking the Moon" many years ago and very much enjoying it. I was not disappointed. This is a straight-forward mystery story that will keep you engaged until the end. A good beach or snow-bound cottage read. The summary has been done elsewhere so I'll give you my thought. The book does an excellent job of showing (not telling) poverty -the real grittiness of it even though that is not the subject matter. It I picked this up from the library based on a review and the fact I remember reading Hand's "Waking the Moon" many years ago and very much enjoying it. I was not disappointed. This is a straight-forward mystery story that will keep you engaged until the end. A good beach or snow-bound cottage read. The summary has been done elsewhere so I'll give you my thought. The book does an excellent job of showing (not telling) poverty -the real grittiness of it even though that is not the subject matter. It is shown in context. Set in 1915 it is also a tour de force in *showing* women's lack of rights - even in just describing the people waiting in carnival rides I get the feel of men as predator and women (even consensually) as prey. It is a darkness that slides through the whole story. To me that is excellent writing. There is also a lot of history written into the story but not being old enough to remember these kinds of fairs that wasn't as intriguing for me. I am going to assume it was well researched before using it as context. At any rate, there's a lot going on besides the straight-forward who done it story itself. I didn't realize Hand has so many books to her claim since I last read her. I will be working through her list. excerpts: {The pharmacist] examined the shelves behind him, frowning. "I know we had Sydenham's but I believe I sold the last of it. No, none left. I do have this..."He turned and held up a bottle of Dr. James Soothing Cordial. "Purer than that other stuff - it's made with heroin."***Bernie grinned again, then grew serious. "Look, unless someone comes forward and reports a child missing in Dreamland the day of the fire, we can only speculate about what they found at Coney Island. Girls get killed all the time. It's the way of the world, Francis. Nothing we can do about it.***She squinted at the boys snatching hats from shrieking girls who were obviously delighted to be picked on. No sign of any kids she knew, though she recognized the beefy man who stood a few yards from the arcade, watching the goings-on with a detached expression like he was pretending he was somewhere else. Sergeant Morgenstern, one of the Riverview cops, though he wore a natty brown suit and derby rather than his uniform. She skirted him, annoyed. She wasn't doing anything wrong, but she still didn't want to be recognized...***All of a sudden she understood everything. She was a fourteen-year-old girl in a hospital room - a prisoner, surrounded by men, policemen and doctors, none of whom would ever believe anything she told them about what had happened, even it was the truth. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Sep 28, 2019 Damien Angelica Walters rated it it was amazing Dark, mysterious, and thrilling! Pin, a 14 year old girl who lives as a boy, begins investigating the deaths of young girls at an amusement park where her mother works as a fortune teller. The novel has an ecletic cast of fictional and historical characters and the details of 1915 Chicago are vivid and interesting.Full disclosure: I won a copy on Goodreads but that didn't influence my feelings about the book. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Oct 31, 2019 Melanie rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction Splendid. Read it in one day. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Sep 21, 2019 Carol Monda rated it it was amazing This book is brimming with intrigue, horror, suspense, nostalgia and an amusement park of fascinating characters. Elizabeth Hand has done it again. flag 1 like · Like  · see review Nov 05, 2019 Patty rated it really liked it A perfectly told and paced book with an unexplainable extra chapter tacked on the end. A curious decision made by the author and editor (are their editors anymore?). flag 1 like · Like  · see review Sep 30, 2019 Chris S. rated it really liked it ARC provided thanks to Mulholland BooksCurious Toys is a curious book, as its title would suggest. It has so much going for it as it relates to notions of gender, sexuality, poverty, and their consequences. Hand seems to have meticulously researched the topic (yes, Henry Darger was an actual person). Yet it was so difficult for me to care about the characters until about two-thirds through the book. Although I recommend this book for those affiliated with the time period and those who like ARC provided thanks to Mulholland BooksCurious Toys is a curious book, as its title would suggest. It has so much going for it as it relates to notions of gender, sexuality, poverty, and their consequences. Hand seems to have meticulously researched the topic (yes, Henry Darger was an actual person). Yet it was so difficult for me to care about the characters until about two-thirds through the book. Although I recommend this book for those affiliated with the time period and those who like experimental narrative styles, it was not for me.I’ll start as I feel the book started, on a “meh” note, with my views on what I felt were aspects that deserved critique. I’ll then end this review with what the book actually does well.The setting and the lack of exposition thereof really irked me. Maybe the idea was just to throw the reader into the story, but I just didn’t relate to it. Also, I didn’t feel like I got a sense of the layout of Riverview, the amusement park where much of the story takes place, until fairly late in the story. Some descriptions of processes were also described at times in ways that confused rather than illuminated things. For example, at one point a person develops a photo, and without an understanding of how darkrooms work, it’s incomprehensible. In a similar manner to the photo incident, there’s one incident where a real historical serial killer is named and his crimes are said to be especially horrible, but we have no context as to what those entailed that put them above regular serial killing. Now, granted, making characters endless fountains of exposition could lead to a comedic “as you know, Bob” effect, but there’s some erring too far to the other end in this regard. Additionally, the name-dropping on this occasion seems to be no more than time-period window dressing to give the setting flavor, but you can’t have flavor if you don’t know the context.The general arrangement of the novel is intriguing, but in practice I found it annoying. Chapters are roughly three pages apiece and seldom more than that, leading to a staccato rhythm. This, when combined with something like five or so point of view characters, means that we never seem to know any of them all that well. Also, the frequent use of “he,” at the beginning of chapters, while perhaps done to make a point about male privilege, is still unnecessarily confusing. All these things combined frequently made it difficult for me to care about a character’s personal arc, especially.However, some innovations paid off. It seems that the end of one chapter is at times connected to the beginning of the next (one character finishes eating a sandwich, and another character does the same in the subsequent chapter for example), and I thought that was neat. Plus, whether these techniques achieved their desired effect or not, Hand doesn’t take a wink-wink, nudge-nudge approach to them as much as other authors I’ve read this year (Edgar Cantero, I’m looking at you), which I greatly appreciated. I also thought that the romance was done really well. Even in the good books I’ve read featuring romance, it’s incredibly hard for me to see the romantic aspect as anything but cliched most of the time. This book is decidedly different. The relationships feel genuine and not forced at all. Lastly, the last third does away with most of the problems I’ve stated, especially with the chapter structure. The characters were better, the setting was clearer, and the strong bits of the chosen narrative style really began to shine. The ending has just the right amount of payoff. It’s not utopian by any stretch of the imagination, but it feels well-earned.Overall, I was originally thinking of giving this a 3.67, but since the concept is so neat, I give it a solid four. flag Like  · see review Nov 18, 2019 Zoe Miller rated it it was ok This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. decent enough premise built on a house of cards. i'm trepidatious about center-staging a real-life person from extremely recent history in fictional novel in the first place, doubly so when this person is a quote-EXTREMELY-unquote "outsider artist" (Henry Darger) not even 50 years gone. but my caution was overrided by that sublime hook of "girl must pretend to be a boy to get by." this is my achilles heel, the archetype i can do seemingly *ANY* amount of rounding up of weak or problematic decent enough premise built on a house of cards. i'm trepidatious about center-staging a real-life person from extremely recent history in fictional novel in the first place, doubly so when this person is a quote-EXTREMELY-unquote "outsider artist" (Henry Darger) not even 50 years gone. but my caution was overrided by that sublime hook of "girl must pretend to be a boy to get by." this is my achilles heel, the archetype i can do seemingly *ANY* amount of rounding up of weak or problematic narratives to enjoy--up until now, i suppose.i loves a scrappy teen detective in this mold, and Pin was strong enough to carry the book by her own merits--it's just everything around her that ended up polluted by scum and ash. Curious Toys leans heavily on gender non-conforming characters, but--instead of seating their life in the gender politics of the time--what we're given is that old, familiar modern century gender conservatism straight out of a mid-90s thriller movie. none of these people are trans or GNC as we would think of them. Pin's gender is entirely situational; the antagonist's gender is a reflection of their paraphilias, but even that is a generous read of their incredibly scant character development. despite the endless POV chapters of Murder Anticipation granted to the antagonist in this book, whatever their gender may be, it seems mostly an excuse to trot out ancient slurs under the guise of historical accuracy. a historical accuracy i've seen others praise in the context of the book's treatment of racism--a statement i'm gob-smacked by, as this book's treatment of racial animus is so genre standard it might as well have come from a factory mold. the POV police characters are Nice Police who Feel Very Badly about arresting a black man under false pretenses, and once his innocence is confirmed, everyone moves on with no hard feelings or permanent damage.would that some of the research into amusement parks and descriptions of rubbish and stink had gone into what it was actually like to be GNC in 1915 america. :/ is Pin trans? it would've been a more compassionate novel if she were. as is always the case in stories with characters like these, she comes across as trans in every way but saying the world aloud, but plausible deniability is maintained until the absolute last second--at which point the reader is reassured that no, of course she's not, she's *NORMAL*. instead, the denouement course corrects her (into a socially acceptable butch old lady), much like it does the villain. only, Pin's course correction permits her to live. flag Like  · see review Oct 23, 2019 Dan Trefethen rated it really liked it Elizabeth Hand is a master stylist. Sometimes she goes for an unsettling, atmospheric effect (see “Wylding Hall”). Here, she ventures into historical fiction.It's 1915 Chicago, and our protagonist Pin is a 14-year-old girl masquerading as a boy because she's dirt poor and lives in an amusement park. Amusement parks in those days were pretty rough. They were also places where men preyed on women or girls (think of the non-fiction book “The Devil in the White City”). That book is evoked when we Elizabeth Hand is a master stylist. Sometimes she goes for an unsettling, atmospheric effect (see “Wylding Hall”). Here, she ventures into historical fiction.It's 1915 Chicago, and our protagonist Pin is a 14-year-old girl masquerading as a boy because she's dirt poor and lives in an amusement park. Amusement parks in those days were pretty rough. They were also places where men preyed on women or girls (think of the non-fiction book “The Devil in the White City”). That book is evoked when we encounter a serial killer who targets pre-adolescent girls and drugs them before killing them.The wild card here is that Hand brings in some real people, such as Charlie Chaplin (who was involved in the movie industry in Chicago before moving to California). The primary real person Hand uses, however, is the eccentric artist Henry Darger who created “The Vivian Girls”. Darger and Pin make an unusual team in trying to figure out who is killing the girls.The structure of the book moves among different POVs, including that of the unnamed killer. This gives Hand the chance to show us the mental state of both the killer and Darger, not to mention Pin, who is conflicted about her gender identity. Hand has done her research and the book is full of early 20th century Chicago history and slang. (If you don't know what a 'blind pig' is, you will after reading this book.) She also invokes the dirtiness of the city and the grinding poverty of so many people, especially recent immigrants. While I applaud Hand's verisimilitude in showing us old Chicago and the amusement park phenomenon, I felt this was a case of a labor of love (concerning Henry Darger) that was more interesting to the author than to most readers. Hand is more successful when crafting stories that have a supernatural element or unexplained creepiness. I read Hand for the masterful effects I don't see in other authors; this book is told in a plainer style associated with historical fiction (despite the unusual POVs) and did not engage me as deeply. flag Like  · see review Nov 12, 2019 Kelly McCubbin rated it it was amazing My experience with Elizabeth Hand's work began with the brilliant slow-burn of a ghost story, "Wylding Hall". So imagine my surprise when this novel takes off like a shot at a pace that would make Dashiell Hammett blush! It's a deep-noir thrill ride, like one of those fleshing out Riverside Park's infrastructure in a time where such places had yet to become so comfortable that you didn't fear for you life a little.What makes this book so incredibly special though, is the sly interweaving of My experience with Elizabeth Hand's work began with the brilliant slow-burn of a ghost story, "Wylding Hall". So imagine my surprise when this novel takes off like a shot at a pace that would make Dashiell Hammett blush! It's a deep-noir thrill ride, like one of those fleshing out Riverside Park's infrastructure in a time where such places had yet to become so comfortable that you didn't fear for you life a little.What makes this book so incredibly special though, is the sly interweaving of questions about gender identity and isolation threaded through what, at first, seems like a straightforward, and breathless, genre novel. It is so much more than just a genre novel.If it can be compared to anything, and I'm not sure it can, it might be the great, off the tracks noir of Fredric Brown. Hand seems to share a love here of the edges of society, the places oddballs live and how their power is consolidated in those places, like a concentration of unstable chemicals ready to blow at any moment. In fact, with Pin and Henry Darger, she flips Brown's "Ed and Am" books completely ass over teakettle in a way that leaves me grinning from ear to ear.I could go on about the fascinating incorporation of real genius/madman Darger or the wonderful star cameos or the twist that caught me so off guard that I had to re-read it several times in silent awe or how Pin has become my hero, but I won't. Read it for yourselves. It's a delight. flag Like  · see review Oct 21, 2019 Stacey Lunsford rated it really liked it Pin is as 14-year old girl, passing as a boy. Her mother is working at the Riverview Amusement Park for the summer as a fortune-teller and they live in a shack on the grounds. It is 1915, it is safer if people think Pin is a boy, and Pin prefers it anyway. Free to roam as she pleases, Pin observes a man take a young woman into the Hell Gate tunnel ride...but only he emerges. Pin reports what she has seen but the police latch onto the idea that Clyde, a black man who works on the ride, must be Pin is as 14-year old girl, passing as a boy. Her mother is working at the Riverview Amusement Park for the summer as a fortune-teller and they live in a shack on the grounds. It is 1915, it is safer if people think Pin is a boy, and Pin prefers it anyway. Free to roam as she pleases, Pin observes a man take a young woman into the Hell Gate tunnel ride...but only he emerges. Pin reports what she has seen but the police latch onto the idea that Clyde, a black man who works on the ride, must be the killer. Pin decides to investigate with the help of Henry Darger. The world of 1915 is well-rendered. Themes of gender identity, racism, sexism, those who prey on children and young women and are protected by the white male establishment, and police corruption resonate with the same issues our society faces today. One male character says to another, "Girls get killed...There's nothing we can do." Of course, he should have said, "There's nothing we will do," because that's the truth behind the crimes and injustices that this novel showcases. A good mystery, a good historical novel, and a great female protagonist. flag Like  · see review Oct 21, 2019 Andy Weston rated it liked it Set in Chicago in 1915 at an amusement park and the nearby the movie studio the story centres around 14 year old Pin Maffuci, a girl disguised as a boy in order to get work at the park. There is a a pedophile serial killer on the loose, soon to be pursued by the 14 year old, helped by Henry Darger, an artist and writer. Darger is a real-life character, and Hand also incorporates Charlie Chaplin, Wallace Berry, and Gloria Swanson, amongst others. Girls dressed as boys is not exactly Set in Chicago in 1915 at an amusement park and the nearby the movie studio the story centres around 14 year old Pin Maffuci, a girl disguised as a boy in order to get work at the park. There is a a pedophile serial killer on the loose, soon to be pursued by the 14 year old, helped by Henry Darger, an artist and writer. Darger is a real-life character, and Hand also incorporates Charlie Chaplin, Wallace Berry, and Gloria Swanson, amongst others. Girls dressed as boys is not exactly ground-breaking, and neither are Carny novels, but I had enjoyed Hand’s previous novels, Available Dark and Wylding Hall , so gave this a go. Here though, her writing cannot generate the atmosphere the potentially dark subject matter needs. Too often it reads like a sugar-coated novel for 11-13 year olds. flag Like  · see review Oct 02, 2019 Donna Schoening rated it liked it This was an advanced copy giveaway from Goodreads. I was attracted to the book because it was compared to Devil in the White City which I really enjoyed. While there were hints of that in the time period & gruesome murders, Curious Toys jumped around a bit for me. There were several characters and at times I really had to think about who this character was. The story really drew me in, though, and I was cheering for Pin, the main character, throughout the entire book. They mystery of who the This was an advanced copy giveaway from Goodreads. I was attracted to the book because it was compared to Devil in the White City which I really enjoyed. While there were hints of that in the time period & gruesome murders, Curious Toys jumped around a bit for me. There were several characters and at times I really had to think about who this character was. The story really drew me in, though, and I was cheering for Pin, the main character, throughout the entire book. They mystery of who the murderer at the amusement parks was really kept me reading. Thank you for the giveaway! flag Like  · see review « previous 1 2 3 next »

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