Kirkus Star


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 8 - 14
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Cordelia Clay helps her father, Cornelius, rescue injured and endangered monsters, restoring them to health in the ramshackle family mansion; when her father and the monsters disappear, she sets out to find them.

Gregory, a homeless orphan whose sick zombie puppy—a zuppy—she cured, insists on joining Cordelia’s dangerous quest. The baby dragon with a broken wing and the elderly filch found hidden in the oven can’t be left behind, either, as those aware that monsters do exist advocate exterminating them. Traveling by foot, rail, hot air balloon, and—after Cordelia resolves a pixie infestation—sailing ship, the children flee across Boston, seek out a Manhattan circus featuring monsters, and visit a Nova Scotia university, encountering anxious monsters posing as humans along the way. In this grimy, Dickensian world, an alternate-history Gilded Age, vast wealth coexists with grinding poverty and fear of the other runs deep: Where fear rules, difference is the enemy. Cordelia’s mother, author of a definitive natural history of monsters, held more benign views, convinced that the two evolutionary branches, Animalia (ours) and Prodigia (monsters), were relatives sharing a common origin, but died before proving her theory. While resourceful Cordelia and stalwart Gregory are good company, the monsters are standouts, manifesting, like all animals, unique natural attributes and proclivities (described in a comprehensive guide). Charming or alarming, these creatures and their world, rendered in abundant, imaginative detail, beg for further exploration. (Human characters seem to be white in Aldridge’s woodcutlike illustrations.)

Enchanting. (Fantasy. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-06-234507-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2019

Kirkus Interview
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Lauren Oliver is known for her best-selling young adult novels (including the Delirium trilogy) but her new novel Rooms is her first written for adults. We ask her about making the transition, finding new readers, and writing a ghost story. Rooms actually has two story lines that nicely collide: First, a ghost story in which the ghosts can’t leave the house but don’t know why. Second, an estranged family story in which the ex-husband dies, leaving his alcoholic ex-wife, angry daughter and disaffected teen son to clean out their former home, not knowing that it's haunted. We go ghost-hunting with Lauren Oliver this week at Kirkus TV. View video >


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