Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I Was Tricked
I've got books overdue at the library so it's time to stop talking about me and start talking about some reading.
Have you ever read one of those incredibly unbelievable books about a newly orphaned kid who has to go live with horrible relatives? The aunt and uncle are cartoons and the cousins are nasty? Well, when you start reading 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson, you might think you've stumbled into one of those horror stories, except the aunt and uncle are lovely people and the cousins are right out of The Penderwicks.
And you know how sometimes kids' books will have an adult character, usually a man, who's wise and experienced and gives advice and kind of makes you want to heave? 100 Cupboards has a character who you might think is going to turn out that way, except that he's kind of a misfit and not at all who he seems to be. (I never saw that coming.)
And, finally, don't you find it totally fake the way kids in books do stupid and dangerous things as if they have absolutely no sense of self-preservation at all? 100 Cupboards has a girl character who is so foolhardy--in a well-developed way--that you'll believe that she'd follow someone through a hole in the wall even though she doesn't know what's on the other side. Her little sister becomes quite feisty toward the end, too.
100 Cupboards is about a boy whose parents have disappeared while traveling so he has to go stay with relatives he doesn't know. In his attic bedroom he finds 99 doors that lead into different places, which his just-plain-folks Kansas relatives didn't know were there. Or did they?
I'm not a fan of high fantasy. Witches from alternative worlds leave me cold as a general rule. But Wilson sort of led me into that by starting his story in the very real here and now. So I was committed to the "real" characters by the time the witch appeared.
An interesting point about this book: It has one of those cardboardy kinds of covers with the cover illustration printed upon it so there are no front and back flaps. There's no flap copy to give you an idea of what the book is about.
Every now and then I like to read a book I know nothing about. And in this case, if I'd known the book included a witch, I would probably have put it back on the shelf.
100 Cupboards is the first book in a series. The second book, Dandelion Fire, will be published in February.