This is one of those rare books that within the first 5 pages I just KNEW it was going to be good.
I'm not even sure how to explain this book! 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson starts out seeming like a fairly straight-forward fantasy where a young boy uncovers a slew of magical cupboards in his bedroom that lead to other worlds. The first half of the book is taken up by character introductions and development as well as painting the backdrop in which the story takes place. While I would normally consider this to be too large of a portion of the book to be devoted to this before fully diving into the story, the wonderful word pictures Wilson creates never make you feel disappointed. For example, at one point the main character Henry is remembering a prank he played on his cousins' cat as a child: "Suddenly the memory appeared vividly in the foreground of his mind and danced an emphatic jig."
Another particularly lovely passage is this: " The wind scratched its back along the side of the barn. The stars swung slowly across the roof of this world, and the grass swayed and grew, content to be the world's carpet but still desiring to be taller."
These sections along with others give this book a richness that you don't always find in books targeted at children.
But back to the story - eventually the events surrounding the cupboards start to unfold and you soon realize that there is a lot more to this story than first meets the eye. There is a complexity to the workings of the portals, there is a history that stretches back into the distant past that is hinted at, but not yet fully explored, and there is an ancient evil that threatens to destroy not only Henry, but his family and friends as well. Even Henry, and in fact his Aunt and Uncle are not exactly what they seem.
This book sets itself up perfectly for a sequel while not giving a terrible cliff-hanger ending like some series are prone to do. It has a resolution of sorts, although I cannot imagine quitting there! I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment - due out on February 24th!