In this final installment in N.D. Wilson’s 100 CUPBOARDS fantasy trilogy for children, Henry is living in the world behind the cupboards with his “real” family, but he is still able to get to Kansas to play baseball with his friend Zeke. Henry has a lot on his mind. He’s been having scary visions that seem prophetic and he is worried about the scar that’s growing on his face. It was caused by a drop of the evil witch’s blood and Henry suspects that it will eventually drive him mad and/or give the witch control over him. Henry’s friend Frank the Fat Faery has been disowned by the faeries because he helped Henry break the curse that bound Mordecai.
Henry is happy to be reunited with all the people he loves, and to meet his older brother James who has arrived to see him, but the familial bliss doesn’t last long. When the emperor and the witch send men to capture Henry, he escapes into Kansas with his cousin Henrietta and their grandmother while the castle burns down around them. Most of the rest of the family is taken hostage and put on a slave ship. It’s up to Henry, Henrietta, Zeke, and their faery friends, to set things right.
Fans of the previous two books, 100 Cupboards and Dandelion Fire, will surely be pleased with the finale of this trilogy. The pace is leisurely for most of the story, the interactions between the good guys are sweet, the faeries continue to amuse, and there are some scary, and even gruesome, moments, too. Henry gets all the answers he needs, the ending is bittersweet, and the epilogue is quite satisfying. The language is sometimes lovely.
Children who haven’t read much epic fantasy will have more patience with 100 CUPBOARDS than I did. The story has too many similarities to the typical Tolkienesque heroic fantasy quest for me to feel compelled to read it in a rush, so it took me longer to finish it than it should have. I wouldn’t hesitate, though, to recommend this series to a child between the ages of 9 and 14. It would also make a nice family read. I can recommend the audio version read by Russell Horton.
100 Cupboards — (2007-2008) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Twelve-year-old Henry York wakes up one night to find bits of plaster in his hair. Two knobs have broken through the wall above his bed and one of them is slowly turning… Henry scrapes the plaster off the wall and discovers cupboards of all different sizes and shapes. Through one he can hear the sound of falling rain. Through another he sees a glowing room — with a man pacing back and forth! Henry soon understands that these are not just cupboards, but portals to other worlds. 100 Cupboards is the first book of a new fantasy adventure, written in the best world-hopping tradition and reinvented in N. D. Wilson’s inimitable style.