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Under the Museum

259 pages4 hours


In a museum storeroom, amongst the FeeJee Mermaid and P. T. Barnum’s other castoff exhibits, lives a fourteen-year old dwarf called Hector. Dreading public exhibition as a freak, he is seemingly content to rest in the shadows, keeping Barnum's Museum clean to afford his keep.

One night, he surprises an intruder in the basement and discovers a hidden tunnel under the museum. The intruder--Esther, an Irish street girl--becomes a friend, and together they set out to explore the underground world. Here they discover a thieves’ den of stolen loot from the museum, a hobo box city, and a labyrinth of scientific laboratories where a group of strange scientists perform suspicious experiments. Is Bill, the “Missing Link” and leader of the revolutionary band of thieves, to be trusted? And what of Eugenia, the beautiful scientist and her colleagues who all look mysteriously alike?

Esther, a girl of the streets who trusts no one, persuades Hector not to disclose the secret to his friend, the Museum doctor, but the conspiracy seems to grow larger when they encounter Eugenia in the city up above. Who else knows the secrets below the museum? Beach, the strange man who wanders about the basement, tapping on walls, the villainous night watchman Lucian, Calvin, the mad vagabond, or Jasper, the dwarf actor, who has already threatened Hector’s life?

Suddenly no one is who he or she seems, even Barnum the larger than life showman, and Hector must figure out whom he can trust and who is capable of the ultimate betrayal.

This upper middle-grade novel with its vibrant descriptions of the nineteenth century world of amusement and freakery will appeal to readers of all ages.

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