I have a great middle grade fantasy to review today, The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet. It just came out a few months ago and I was lucky to meet the author at a book signing.
The Story- Maya and her little brother James have just moved to Paris, France. Their dad is working for a strange group known only as The Society of Philosophical Chemistry, and their mother is ill, recovering from cancer.
From the get go Maya finds things strange in France. First, there is the house down the street, it fills her with foreboding and she swears the metal salamander on the door is actually watching her. Then there is her cousin Louise, who appears to be invisible to everyone else accept family members. And let’s not forget the distant relative she finds who refuses to leave his house and spends all his time watching over a beautiful cabinet he refers to as The Cabinet of Earths.
Maya is thrust into an age old mystery full of missing children, immortal “perfect” people, and magic. After her brother is kidnapped, what will she do to save him?
My Thoughts- This is a unique fantasy novel and I really enjoyed its fresh take. It’s a premise I’ve never read before and is full of great and interesting tidbits. Maya is a wonderful little girl, and it is fun to follow along on her adventures as she tries to unravel the mystery.
The cabinet is a strange yet curious idea. The fact that your essence or earth can be pulled out of you and that you can be immortal sounds like such a good plan, but the author does a good job spotlighting the evils of living forever and of losing touch with humanity. There is also a healthy chunk of creepiness, including creating and eating anbar, the food of the immortals. And also the purple eyed man, who seems to be in charge of the Society.
One other thing the author does well, is dealing with the situation between Maya and her sick mother. The feelings expressed seem genuine, and Maya has to make some tough and ethical decisions about what she would do to save her mom.
I recommend this middle grade read as something new and exciting in the kidlit world.