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100 Cupboards    by N. D. Wilson order for
100 Cupboards
by N. D. Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Twelve-year-old Henry York arrives in Henry, Kansas to stay with his aunt and uncle, Dots and Frank Willis, after his over-protective travel writer parents are taken hostage, and held for ransom, while riding bicycles in Columbia. Of his three cousins - Anastasia, Penny and Henrietta - Henry connects most with the latter (who's also often called Henry).

The Willises introduce Henry to all kinds of new and enjoyable experiences - from riding in the back of a truck to baseball. Frank Willis is an unusual man, who sells tumbleweeds on the Internet, and gives Henry a baseball glove and a knife of his own. And - limited in space because they've been unable to open Grandfather's bedroom door since he died two years before - the Willises put Henry up in an attic room that yields surprising secrets.

After plaster from the wall beside his bed falls on him, Henry starts prying it off with his new knife. Underneath, he finds two compass knobs and ninety-nine - each very different from the others - small cupboards opening into other worlds. There's a mysterious key in one of them, while ominous - and very official - mail 'from the Central Committee of Faeren' arrives through another. When Henrietta discovers what Henry is doing, she gets in on the act, insisting on opening a disturbing black cupboard that makes Henry nauseous.

Unfortunately their actions open their world to an old evil, while in parallel the two Henry's discover a bigger cupboard that allows them to actually travel across dimensions. The story of 100 Cupboards builds slowly and surely into a grand action-packed finale that pits the good guys against an all powerful sorceress. And the stage is set for more to follow in this quirky, magical new series.

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