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Curious Toys | Elizabeth Hand | 2019, 336 pages | Fiction
In 1915, Pin, the daughter of an Italian fortune-teller at Chicago’s Riverview Amusement Park, disguises herself as a boy to make a living as an errand-runner. She’s haunted by her sister’s recent murder and desperate to save money before she and her mother lose their employment at the end of the summer. Unbeknownst to Pin, a serial killer is haunting the rides of Riverview, waiting for his next victim. When Pin witnesses his newest murder she must join forces with Henry Darger, a troubled artist, to unmask a killer.
Reminiscent of The Alienist and The Devil in the White City, Curious Toys is an immersive thrilling exploration of Chicago in the 1900s. Elements like the inclusion of Henry Darger (a mixed-media Chicagoan artist who possibly suffered from mental illness) and the depiction of Chicago’s thriving movie production scene add to the rich level of detail, but Hand never loses sight of the plot and characters at the heart of this thriller. Pin is a courageous heroine trying to find her way in a heartless world. Highly recommended.
Nora Cascadden, Reference Librarian