“Henry, Kansas, is a hot town. And a cold town.”
So begin’s N. D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards, the first of three books in the 100 Cupboards series. This was a random pick-up for us one day at Half Price Books. I think I had heard the title before but didn’t really know anything about it.
As it turns out, I think it was one of our collective favorites this year. We tore through it as a read-aloud in a week or two (always a good sign that Dad likes it as well; I’ve gotten myself stuck reading aloud some books that I really didn’t like and when that happens it can take forever to finish them because I’m not terribly motivated).
In brief, it’s about a boy named Henry who visits his Aunt, Uncle, and cousins in Henry, Kansas (Henry in Henry, get it?). The whole family situation feels a bit odd from the start: Uncle Frank is a an oddball (but a great character; probably my favorite from the book) and every hint we get about Henry’s parents leads you to believe that they are somehow both overprotective (like making him ride in a car seat through age 8) and oddly neglectful (like abandoning him for long stretches of time while they travel the world). Now, it seems, they’ve been kidnapped for ransom in a South American country, hence the reason for Henry’s visit to Henry.
Obviously, there are some cupboards. Hidden behind the plaster of Henry’s cramped attic bedroom he discovers first one and then a host of strange and diversely shaped cupboards, some of which can be opened and lead into magical worlds. There’s also a room in his Aunt and Uncle’s house which seems to be permanently locked (though Henry’s Aunt has been asking Frank to fix the lock for some time). This room, in which the family’s grandfather died and from which a little old man seems at times to wander, also proves to have otherworldly secrets.
I don’t want to give a whole plot synopsis here and I certainly don’t want to give away any spoilers. What I will say is that N. D. Wilson is a very good writer. The story built and built with plenty of mystery along the way and managed to provide a payoff in the end without giving everything away (hence the sequels). I did a bit of reading on him afterwards and it seems he’s a believer, so it was even more encouraging to read something so well done and find out that it was coming from a Christian worldview. There are no overt Christian messages or Narnia symbolism here, but I don’t think that is Wilson’s style or purpose. He does, however, love a good story.
In 100 Cupboards, I think he’s written one.
|Violence||2||There’s definitely some blood drawn in this one and more shed behind the curtain, but it’s not graphic or prevelant.|
|Miscellaneous||The magic here includes some witchcraft and darker elements, so depending on where your personal convictions lie, you may want to take note of that.|
NOTE: As always, my content notes are for informational purposes, not judgmental ones. For a full explanation of my Content Notes and the scale, click here.