Hoffman’s lush descriptions evoke an infant New York City, a rapidly rising metropolis devouring the surrounding wilderness and digesting lost souls. Coralie’s father is a purveyor of the strange, the proprietor of the Museum of Extraordinary Things on Coney Island, a collection of found and created miracles meant to titillate the imagination. Born with webbed fingers, Coralie is billed as a mer-creature, spending her youth haunting the formaldehyde soaked hallways her father created. As Coralie ages, her father’s magic begins to fade, and Coralie longs to break free of the museum, her father and her own strangeness. While Hoffman does spoon-feed reader a little too much (she reiterates plot points because she really wants readers to make connections) over all, this is a beautifully written book. A love story, a coming-of-age-tale and a brief look at the working and social conditions at the turn of the Twentieth Century, this is an immersing read.