100 Cupboards

Monday, May 18, 2009

100 Cupboards, by N.D. Wilson

I've been reading N.D. Wilson's short stories and articles in the theology magazine Credenda Agenda for over a decade. He's matured from writing weird stories with off-the-wall observations to kooky stories with insight. I believe that writing, like any craft, takes much practice, and I'm glad it paid off so handsomely for him in this great story, 100 Cupboards.

The plot is this: twelve year old Henry goes to live with his relatives in small town Kansas after his parents disappear. He discovers secret cupboards in his attic bedroom, which turn out to be portals to different worlds. His understated uncle is more than originally assumed, his deceased grandfather's bedroom door is impenetrable, posted letters from other worlds deliver ominous warnings, and Henry finally plays baseball with other boys. Even though it is technically a children's story, it had me hooked from the beginning. I was completely spooked for the last half. (It probably didn't help that I was reading it in the dark, while nursing in the wee small hours of the morning.) My only quibble is there's no resolution to the story: this is only the setup for the next installment of the series, or what my husband calls the Tim LaHaye school of writing.

Here's an example of the engaging perspective Wilson brings to his story--constellations above watch Henry and marvel at his lack of imagination.

Above him, the stars twinkled with laughter. Galaxies looked. Nudged each other. Chuckled. He didn't even know about secret cities," Orion said. "His mother never told him."
The Great Bear smiled. "Did his dad tell him about forgotten doors?"
"Only having to do with science projects or bicycle trips."
"Mostly topographic, or the kind that shad countries in different colors based on gross national product or primary exports."
"Nothing with 'Here be dragons' on the edges?"
"Never. He found a hidden cupboard with compass locks, and do you know what he thought was in it?"
"A unicorn's horn?"

PS: While browsing through other bloggers' reviews of this book, I noticed that we all seem to have the same reactions: (1) Wilson's writing is so good that we can't help but quote excerpts and (2) it's spooky!


Nathan Garrett said...

I was pondering getting that, but stories w/o endings really annoy the snot out of me. Maybe I'll wait till you review the next book in the series :-)

Sally Apokedak said...

Are you kidding? Who is ND Wilson? Doug's son? I've seen this book around but had no idea it was written by a Wilson.

I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review.

Rachel said...

Yes, this is Doug's son Nathan. He writes like his father, with brevity and wit, packed with meaning. I had forgotten I had reviewed this--it's time to get the sequel from the library!
If you want more of the Wilson family, Doug's wife Nancy has a blog called Femina which her daughters contribute to, and there are links to other family blogs, too. I think they are quite an energetic bunch!