Wednesday, February 3, 2010
100 Cupboards by N D Wilson
On the recommendation of my local bookstore I bought this for my son earlier last year. My requirements were that he needed a novel - something a boy would like with some adventure, perhaps a little magic and aimed at his age (11/12).
He liked the look of it, started it, loved it and about 2/3 of the way through he stopped. It languished for months on his bedside table being overtaken by shorter novels borrowed from the school library. He finally started it again during the holidays and then put it down a couple of chapters from the end as it was a bit scary to read at night!
He finally finished it (during the daytime) and I finally got a chance to read it (he's quite strict that I CANNOT read his books before he does).
The story starts in a small country town named Henry in the state of Kansas. A young (12 y.o.) boy (also called Henry) who has lived a very sheltered, protected life goes to live with his Aunt and Uncle after his parents have been taken hostage while on a bicycle tour of Colombia. His Aunt Dotty is a friendly, frugal woman, his uncle is tall, thin and appears a little absent minded, however he deals well with the out-of-his-element Henry, and to top it off, his three cousins are all girls! The large front bedroom of the house is mysteriously referred to as "Grandfather's Room" but it has been locked since his death a couple of years previously and no-one can find the key to get in.
Henry is moved into the attic room where on his first night he hears some unusual scratching. He also sees coming out of the bathroom a mysterious short man in a purple robe who promptly becomes a hazy sort of memory.
On his second night, some plaster from the wall falls on his head and when he looks up, two small knobs are protruding from the plaster in the wall. Henry picks at the plaster and ends up uncovering, with his cousin Henrietta's help, a wall with 99 small cupboard doors that all appear locked.
Henry is wary, but Henrietta is excited and so the adventure begins. The mystery of the cupboards is slowly revealed, as Henry and Henrietta receive mysterious letters through them, realise that they are doors to other worlds, and have some quite scary moments before Henry finally starts using them.
The pace doesn't slacken, the momentum if anything keeps building and although there is a happy ending, there are some spine chilling events too!
I really enjoyed it, however I can see how my son got a little scared towards the end. The witch character is definitely not nice and the treatment is a little horror-style, albeit aimed at children. I am looking forward to reading the second instalment - the Dandelion Fire, although this may take months at son's previous reading rate!!