The Celestial Globe, by Marie Rutkoski

The Celesital Globe, by Marie Rutkoski (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 304 pages, YA/Upper Middle Grade).

Back in 2008, I enjoyed Marie Rutkoski's first book, The Cabinet of Wonders, very much; so much so that I helped shortlist it for the Cybils that year. So I opened its sequel, The Celestial Globe, with much hopeful anticipation....and was very pleased indeed to find it even more enthralling than the first book. It includes attacking monsters, imprisoned elemental spirits, treachery, nautical adventuring, friendship, fencing lessons, a murder mystery, and my favorite fictional mechanical spider, all in a well-written package.

In The Cabinet of Wonders, Petra and her gypsy friend Neel, with help from a mechanical spider friend, had thwarted the plans of the twisted Prince Rudolfo of Bohemia to take over the world. Neel rejoined his Gypsy kin, Petra returned to her village, and for a brief span it seemed that all was well again.

But as The Celestial Globe begins, the prince has sent monsters to attack Petra and her father. Her father is captured, but Petra escapes, saved by John Dee, the Elizabethan magician with whom she had forged a mind link in the first book. Trying to save her, her village friend Tomick plunges through a hole in space, and finds himself a prisoner of the same gypsies that Neel had joined...

Petra in London chaffs against her virtual imprisonment by the powerful and enigmatic Dee. She is caught up in a web of murder and intrigue, developing her own magical skills under Dee's tutelage. Meanwhile, Tomick's fate hangs in the balance--will he be sold into slavery by the Sea Gypsies, or will he be able to continue his search for Petra? The Gypsies are searching themselves for the Celestial Globe, a magical artifact that would give them the ultimate freedom of travel, and an escape from persecution. And all signs point toward London...where Petra is already at work solving the mystery.

The Celestial Globe is simultaneously epically sweeping and pleasingly detailed. Magics large and small fill the adventures of both Petra and the boys, but do not dominate the plot. Rather, it is the mystery in which the characters are caught that drives the book, a mystery the characters are figuring out along with the reader. And it's a beautifully complex, satisfying tricky story, that doesn't make anything too obvious (although that being said, sometimes I can be rather dense).

I don't think it absolutely necessary to have read The Cabinet of Wonders before reading this one, but, since that is a fine book itself, there's no reason why you wouldn't want to read it first anyway.

(note on age: I was surprised to see this one described as YA over at Amazon; the publisher has it as Grades 5-9, ages 10-14, which I'd say was spot on--there's no sex, although romance might be coming, some growing up but that's not the main point, some violence but not tremendously so).


  1. I even love the COVERS on these - clever, clever, from the very first look! Can't wait to read this sequel!

  2. I really enjoyed Celesitial Globe.

    I do think reading Cabinet of Wonders makes it easier to follow this one, and understand the different relationship.

    I loved Petra throughout but especially at the end when she found her strength. There was one particular scene that I went back to read again.

    This is MG fiction.

  3. We'll have to order both of these!

    And...we are very embarrassed to report that you won our April Fool's Day giveaway of "A Nest for Celeste", and we are just now getting around to asking you to send us your address! You can e-mail it to ajones(at)ci(dot)alamogordo(dot)nm(dot)us.

  4. It sounds great. I really enjoyed Cabinet of Wonders so I want to read this one too.

    Sometimes I wonder if publishers want to label a book YA because it might be easier to market. There are definitely more book bloggers interested in YA than middle grade.

  5. Um hm--I love Petra too, and I think I know the scene you mean, Doret!

    The publisher has it as grades 5-9, ages 10-14, which I think is just right--I shall go put that in the body of the post.

    It is utterly true, Natalie, how many more YA bloggers there are! But so many them are,in fact, YAs themselves, it seems, that I guess it's not surprising that that is what they want to review...the derth of mg sff reviews was what made me start my roundups in the first place. I seem to be the first person to have written a blog review of this book, for instance, which seems wrong to me--excellent books like this should somehow be getting lots of blogger buzz!

    I like the covers too Tanita!

    And thanks for the good news, Turtles!

  6. I just finished this last night and was writing up my review for it, sometimes I wonder if you can read my mind :)

    I love the little tin spider.

    I actually think you won't be lost without reading Cabinet of Wonders but you'd be very confused as to past events that were referenced and not really understand what is going on.

    I think this is one that sorta straddles the "older" middle grade but not really YA. :)

  7. And I just put another book on hold at the library.

  8. Ooh ooh ooh! I loved Cabinet too, and need to reread it and then this one. Too much I can't remember clearly, but I DO remember loving it. Yay, I've been waiting for this! :-)

  9. Charlotte, that's why I love your blog so much. You spotlight middle grade books too. There's so many good ones out there.

  10. Charlotte would it be okay if I
    "borrowed" this review. I had planned on writing one myself but I have two other books to review. This would make my life so much easier.

    But seriously MG books don't get as much attention as YA on blogs.

  11. Or I could write you another one to post, Doret--I am worried that I left too much out in my first try at describing what happened, and I could add some spoilers....:)


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