Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Curiosity by Gary Blackwood

CuriosityRufus may be small, weak, and have a hunchback, but he is very good at playing chess. He never knew his mother, and his father has been imprisoned in a poor house. He ends up with an evil, greedy man named Maelzel who wants to take advantage of Rufus's talent. The plan is for Rufus to hide inside a mechanical, chess-playing man, the Turk, and take on challengers for money. Rufus is treated cruelly, but he goes along with the plan in order to raise money to free his father. However, Maelzel never pays him, and he fears he'll be killed if he refuses to keep playing. Rufus also may be killed if anyone discovers he is actually inside the machine. Many people try, including Edgar Allen Poe, but Rufus wonders about a woman dressed in black who seems to be following him. It seems there's little chance of Rufus escaping his predicament alive.

I enjoyed reading The Shakespeare Stealer series by this author. This book had the poor boy who feels forced to join a performing group, and he had to keep a secret. The chess playing was not really in your face; there were references to some games, but it wasn't move-by-move boring. The plot dealt more with Rufus's situation than chess playing. I enjoyed the mystery of the woman in black and the suspense of anyone discovering the secret. The climax was anticlimactic. The story seemed to just end rather than reaching an exciting, suspenseful moment in the story. The last few chapters seemed more like an epilogue.

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