100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson was my seventh title for the 48 Hour Book Challenge. I chose it because I enjoyed Wilson's previous book, Leepike Ridge, immensely, and because it has an intriguing premise. However, I have to say that I found 100 Cupboards a bit of a slow read, and the plot a bit confusing.
Henry York, age 12, is kind of an odd kid, raised by overprotective parents who traveled most of the time, and didn't teach him anything important. Now, however, his parents have been kidnapped from some exotic location. Henry is sent to live with his Aunt Dotty, Uncle Frank, and cousins in the sleepy town of Henry, Kansas. Despite feeling a bit disloyal to his parents, Henry is pretty happy to be living a more ordinary life, one where he can learn to play baseball and ride in the back of a pickup truck.
Unfortunately, things at his aunt and uncle's house don't stay ordinary for long. Henry discovers a wall of tiny cupboards, hidden beneath the plaster in his attic room. He and his cousin Henrietta soon come to realize that these aren't ordinary cupboards. They each lead to other worlds, not all of them friendly. Their discovery of the cupboards sets off a chain of dangerous events, during which they learn many things about their family history.
I enjoyed the Wilson's characterization, particularly of Henry, Henrietta, Uncle Frank and the youngest cousin, Anastasia. Henry. I rather liked the humor of having two cousins named Henry and Henrietta, both living in a town called Henry. And the contrast between the overprotected Henry and his much more independent cousins pleased me. I also appreciated Wilson's use of language and description. For example:
"Because of the moon, the attic was almost brighter without Henry's lamp. It hung low in the sky and its light climbed in the windows, sloshing silently around the floor and silvering the walls." (Page 11)
And yet... I had a hard time getting into this book. If I hadn't been reading it for the 48 Hour Book Challenge, I think it would have taken me a long time to get through it. The action builds fairly slowly, and too many different characters, and different worlds are introduced relatively late in the story. Even reading it in one sitting, I still couldn't keep up with exactly what was going on. Perhaps it's just one too many books in a 24-hour period... I think that fans of Leepike Ridge should still check this one out - the writing style is similar, and the premise, different worlds hidden behind little cupboards, is engaging. But it didn't work well for me.
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 2007
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: Becky's Book Reviews, Nothing of Importance, What KT Reads, Semicolon
Author Interviews: Novel Journey
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