100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ("Really Liked It")
Forgive the comparison, it will be made - this is a sort of modern Lion, Witch, & the Wardrobe. Well, OK, from the standpoint that there are other worlds of fantasy that can be entered through portals disguised as ordinary household objects. When Henry goes to live with his aunt & uncle in Henry, KA (yes, really), he discovers secret cupboards hidden away behind a wall of plaster. What are these strange doors? What are they doing? And...is that mail coming in one of them? With his cousin Henrietta to help, Henry discovers more about the house, his own history, and worlds of fantasy than he ever before imagined. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The characters are dear, and I would love to see more of them.
One of the special things about this book is that there isn't a slew of despicable adult characters. In fact, the adults in this book are on the whole very warm, charismatic, and trustworthy. I dare you not to fall in love with Uncle Frank.
The magical suspended reality is done quite well. With a 12-year-old protagonist, it's probably on the younger side of YA lit, but late elementary through early high school students would enjoy it. There are scenes that are downright creepy in that fantastic, engaging way of the imagination. The writing style had delightful turns of phrase and personification, which adds a delicious richness to the text suitable for adult palates. All in all, a fun book for a family to read aloud or listen to together.
I'll warn you now; it's the first book of a series, so be aware of that when approaching the end. It is probably the only reason that I deducted a star. Though I loved the book overall and can't wait for more, I think 100 Cupboards held back a bit, in anticipation of books to follow. (the second is Dandelion Fire and I intend to get my hands on it ASAP).
Recommend: Yes! I would definitely recommend it to younger YA audiences or for a family read.
Topics Discussed: Magic/fantasy, independence and courage
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