i am happy to report that i enjoyed this very much. it was a concern! what if it was awful, what would i say to marie? as luck, or really skill, metis, would have it, the question is dodged. i happened to find the book quite lovely. i say that with very little bias, too. so, enough ado & all that rot. to the meat & the drink. cut to the chase. license to kill.
cabinet... is a ya book set in hapsburg prague. you know i don't like prague, so that was a hurdle! i do like fantasy yarns, & this is a pleasant one. petra kronos is a competent young girl with scoundrel friends who gets in & out of trouble. i won't dither on with a plot summary or any such nonsense. suffice to say: smart girl +1. mechanical spider +1. gypsies +1. so on, so forth. the relationship between petra & her tin spider, astrophil, is a little bit shades of pullman, but not in any way other than they were sipping from the same well, if you follow.
the big selling points for me were a variety of details. most i won't go into, since i plan on biting her style & cribbing them for my own use. we share an interest in invisible fingers, which i call ectoplasmic fingers. a marble with a wasp in it. names for things. john dee! the redheaded queen in a dress made of eyes & ears (a real painting)! & there are selling details-- the sick horses really impressed me. motives outside the scope of the narrative! there is a broader tale at work. that always pleases me.
a quick note: a reviewer for the book said there was "no coherent system of magic." okay, listen you dried up prune of the worst sort of gamer. systems of magic is one of the great millstones of a rule system. as soon as you make magic a reliable, codified, practical schema, you loose the wonder. magic should be incoherent. what are you, a wizard, who can tell it like it is? eff you.