Book #2 for Mother Reader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge.
100 Cupboards is the story of Henry who finds 99 cupboards behind the plaster in his attic bedroom in his Uncle Frank’s and Aunt Dottie’s house in Kansas. Each cupboard has its own secrets to reveal, but the most exciting, magical cupboard is behind the locked door of of an ancient bedroom belonging to Henry’s grandfather, dead for the last two years. Grandfather, however, left a legacy of secret journals and magical cupboards and mysterious messages. Henry and his three girl cousins are the beneficiaries of that legacy.
I don’t know if most kids are passionately fond of metaphors and descriptive language in general, but I am. And Mr. Wilson has some great language fun, as in:
She was diligently eye-wrestling him.
The paint was scum-brown, the sort that normally hides at the bottom of a pond, attractive only to leeches and easily pleased frogs.
There is no known protocol for how young girls ought to behave when discovering small older men puttering around in an already mysterious bedroom. Henrietta did her best.
Dottie . . . was looking past years, sorting summers in her mind.
Those are few of many examples. The story itself reminded me of Narnia, especially The Magician’s Nephew with its multiple entrances into other worlds and the terrible Jadis. It also felt a bit like the game Myst that our family spent a great deal of time decoding a few years ago. There are locks and keys and combinations and again portals into Other Places. 100 Cupboards is bloodier and scarier than either Narnia or Myst however.
Some of the action was a bit confusing, and although I kept most of the characters and worlds straight, I kept confusing the protagonist Henry’s two younger cousins, Henrietta and Anastasia. I’m trying to remember that Henrietta is the one who actually helps Henry, and Anastasia is the one who only wants to be part of the action. And Penelope is the mature older cousin who’s too old to do much.
I must say that I liked Leepike Ridge much better than this second novel by N.D. Wilson, and I found the epilogue at the end totally incomprehensible. Nevertheless, it’s a good magical adventure story in the tradition of the Narnia stories or Edward Eager’s magic stories or Ende’s The Neverending Story. If you’re fond of any of those, you might want to try 100 Cupboards. And if you like this one, Mr. Wilson has left plenty of room, and several unanswered questions, for sequels.
Ah, yes, I see in looking at Amazon that 100 Cupboards is Book 1, and there is a Book 2 called Dandelion Fire due out in February 2009. Of course.