I do not usually enjoy creepy stories, but I had a hard time putting this series down. An intricate fantasy tale combined with some of the best writing I’ve seen for this age group make this series an excellent read. I will admit, there are some ghoulish scenes, but even my squeamish stomach was able to plow through them. I was glad I did not stop after the first book.
The trilogy begins in Kansas where Henry York, age 12, has been sent to live with his Aunt Dotty and Uncle Frank. After the disappearance of his parents who were “finding themselves” on a bike trip through South America, Henry is indifferent as to where his future lies. Raised by nannies with every material comfort, he never felt loved by his parents. Now he doesn’t miss them. His only regret: leaving his friends in New York City to stay with his three cousins, Penelope, Henrietta, and Anastasia.
His prospects look dim until a strange banging begins on the wall of his attic bedroom. Slowly the plaster cracks and crumbles, and Henry finds 99 small doors, each unique, hidden behind it. With the annoyingly helpful curiosity of Henrietta, Henry begins to explore the cupboards behind the doors. Henry and Henrietta secretly discover a variety of other worlds behind the attic wall, including Henry’s real home and real family. Unfortunately, they do not mention their adventures to Frank and Dotty, who know about the cupboards. Their lack of prudence leads to the release of Nimiane, an undying witch whose insurmountable power comes from absorbing life from other creatures. This accident links Henry to the witch and endangers every world connected by the cupboards in the Kansas farmhouse.
Henry proves to be an undaunted hero who overcomes his fears. He risks everything to save those whom he loves, demonstrating compassion and selflessness. N. D. Wilson presents a delightfully wholesome view of family life, esteem for ones elders and staunch loyalty. Each person, weak or strong is valued for their unique talents. At moments in which sibling rivalry could arise, characters express deep respect for each other and a determination to contribute to the family’s well-being. A complex plot and a dialogue that is both humorous and meaningful will keep readers on the edge of their seats. But, what about the last cupboard? You’ll just have to read the books to find.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.