Monday, January 16, 2012
New Review: The Cabinet of Earths
Note: I'd put this one in the middle school group. It has a female protagonist, but I think it is good for both boys and girls. There is no romance.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has some dark moments, including kidnapping, but the pacing is so fast that you don't dwell on them too long, although it does leave much to think about.
Maya and her family have just moved to Paris. She is not thrilled about this decision as she had to leave her dog and her friends behind, but she tries to put on a sunny front because this is her mother's wish. Her mother had been very sick, her cancer is now in remission, but Maya is always worried that the "cold" her parents tell her is nothing to worry about is really the cancer returning. Maya's brother James is 5, a natural charmer, and Maya is envious of the fact that he exists perpetually happy, while she had to grow up fast while dealing with her mother's illness. Of course, she also feels protective over her brother. Once in Paris, Maya starts noticing odd things - almost as if there is magic. They meet their strange cousin Louise, who seems forgettable, like she is just a shade. They also find a family connection in the Fourcroys, an old man with a strange Cabinet that Maya is drawn to, and Henri, a beautiful man that Maya doesn't quite trust, and there is a group of magnetic, beautiful people who never seem to age. Maya also makes a friend with Valko, an outsider like herself. He is a very logical person and his explanations balance out Maya's burgeoning belief in magic. Then James is in danger, and Maya needs to step up and save him.
I thought that Maya's reactions were believable, and the reasoning in the end as to why she alone had to help her brother vs going to her parents felt believable as well (a must in a children's book). I appreciated that very little of the book takes place in school - this is not the story of how Maya and Valko team up against the mean popular kids (refreshing for this reviewer). I also thought that the book raises some very interesting questions on the consequences of an immortal life, how an unchanging existence eats away at your humanity, your capability to enjoy and participate in life. While there are no vampires in this book, it is not hard to draw a comparison to the very popular paranormal creatures. Stealing the vitality from another human takes on a different meaning when you see if from the victim and their family's point of view.
[I received a copy of this to review from Amazon Vine.]