Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Curiosity (Review)

Curiosity by Gary Blackwood

Recently, I finished reading Gary Blackwood's 2014 youth novel Curiosity. Set in 1835, the story follows a sheltered, semi-crippled boy with a unique gift for the game of chess. Due to the failing fortunes of his father, the lad finds himself working for a sinister showman as the secret operator of "The Turk," a chess-playing, mechanical automaton (the Turk is borrowed from history by Blackwood). Meanwhile, Edgar Allen Poe and his poor Annabelle make several appearances. I enjoyed the author's use of phrenology (a nineteenth-century "science" in which a person's character was analyzed through the protrusions of their skull). Blackwood weaves his character's belief in phrenology into the text in a believable way. Period characters who think like period characters, at least in one way or another, are always a plus. They remind us that even though we believe in our own period's scientific claims, our science too could be in error.

Blackwood's enjoyable tale is told with great competence, although most adult readers will find the foreshadowing a bit blatant. I notice that several Goodreads reviewers found the novel disappointing, mostly because it is heavier on character development and atmosphere than plot.

Speaking of chess, have you read Dorothy's Sayers' short stories? They provide an excellent way to practice your puzzle-solving, deductive reasoning skills. I stumbled across this free audio book of "Striding Folly," a mystery story that also involves the game of chess.


  1. Yes, I know I need to read more Dorothy Sayers. Oh wait, you weren't speaking to me personally? Must just be my guilty conscience. :)

    Looks like Blackwood has several potentially interesting stories. Thanks for the review.

    1. Everyone should read more Dorothy Sayers. Even the people who read her all the time!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...