Rutkoski, M. (2008). The cabinet of wonders. New York, NY: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Petra lives in Ocno with her father, Master Kronos, and her magical, mechanical pet Astrophil (Astro) that he made for her. Her best friend at home is Tomik, who makes magic spheres which each contain something that when broken, multiply. She goes to the Salamander Castle and makes a new friend, Neel who has magically extending arms that can pick locks. She also befriends Iris as best she can. Iris is in charge of The Dye Works where all the colors are made by experimenting with magic. Iris has a terrible temper and when she is mad, her skin oozes acid, which melts everything it touches, including the floor.
Petra's father is returned home after working at Salamander Castle for the Prince of Praque - without his eyes. Why? What we know is that the prince hired him to make the most magnificent clock for the town's square. It will have magic that can control the weather. Due to the prince sending Master Kronos back without his eyes, they suspect that he will use this clock for evil. Master Kronos uses his eyes, his mind, and his magic to create things out of metal (like Astrophil). He is the best of the best. The prince doesn't want anything to ever compete with his clock, so he took his magic eyes. Petra will get to the bottom of this.
Petra decides to make her way to the castle by hitching a ride with Lucy and Pavo, Tomik's cousin. She has decided to get a job and get inside the castle, which she does. She works her way up to be able to work in the castle with Iris. Now, she has a bit more access to try to figure out what has happened with her father's eyes. She also discovers that there is one essential piece to the clock that was left unassembled.
While the prince is at a dinner; Petra, Astro, and Neel sneak there way in to the prince's room to get into his Cabinet of Wonders. They suspect that her father's eyes are hidden there under lock and key. They find the eyes and the magical missing piece to the clock. Now, everyone is after them.
They make their way out of the castle using the different magic spheres that Tomik had given her to use in an emergency. There are several emergencies.
Petra has figured out how to control the missing piece of the clock and destroys it with her mind (she has discovered that she has the same magic as her father). The clock can't hurt anyone now. She also gets her father's eyes back to him.
1) There are unexpected insights around every corner. What else would we expect when there is so much magic involved?
2) The use of precise language and imagery were done extremely well. Even though this was a world we don't know, a world with magic, we could picture the whole thing quite easily.