“The Museum of Extraordinary Things,” by Alice Hoffman

Spooky season is upon us, and I think I found just the hauntingly good book for the occasion. There’s no ghosts, ghouls, or dybbuks, but there is the early 20th century Coney Island sideshow attraction The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Here is where we meet our heroine, Coralie, a young woman who grows up in the house attached to the museum and is groomed by her father to become the museum’s star attraction as a mermaid in her teenage years.

During her midnight swim sessions, she stumbles upon young New York photographer, Eddie, in the woods. From there, Coralie and Eddie’s fates are intertwined in a murder mystery, as well as a love story.

This unusual and gripping page-turner is a ghost story of a different kind. From the Russian pogroms that Eddie and his father escape to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and even the personal horrors that Coralie experiences at the museum, Ms. Hoffman shows us that even our wildest imaginings aren’t as horrible as what humans can inflict on one another. And yet, there’s always a chance for redemption, new beginnings, and even love for those who seek it.

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