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Book Review: The 100 Cupboards Series by N.D. Wilson

July 14, 2010

100 Cupboards is both the name of the first book and the trilogy by N.D. Wilson, along with the second book Dandelion Fire and the final book The Chestnut King. I love this type of fiction if it is well done. Unfortunately, so much of Christian fiction in this genre has been done poorly. There have been signs of life lately, however, especially with the work of both Andrew Peterson and Jeffrey Overstreet. N.D. Wilson lands himself in that category with this excellent trilogy.

I loved this series of books for many reasons. First, it was a compelling and original story. This is no copycat or mimic here. In the fantasy genre, it is all too difficult to remain within the bounds of the genre while weaving an excellent yarn, and Wilson does that to perfection. The series starts off simply, Wilson doesn’t feel the need to show all his cards in the initial installment, and 100 Cupboards ends with a sense of mystery as to what might come next. Throughout the series, the protagonist, Henry, grows from a lonely, shy, overprotected and underloved boy into a full blown man. First through the love of a family, then through getting caught up into something bigger than himself where he finds purpose and meaning.

There is magic in this world and it is obvious that N.D. Wilson sees it. Never overtly “Christian” in the cheesy, forced kind of way, Wilson presents a world full of truth, of meaning and purpose. He shows why the fantasy genre resonates with so many people, that it closely resembles reality more than most “realistic” fiction novels do, at least if you actually belive the Bible (including the bits we typically skim).

The books have a sympathetic and relatable protagonist in Henry, believable antagonists, memorable characters and true depth of feeling. It is obvious that Wilson knows his literature in the best kind of way, not in the overt ripping off kind of way, but in capturing the feeling and depth and humor and character of stories from the past in a story all his own. I cannot recommend these books enough. Read them to your children. Read them if you love children’s stories. Especially read them if you don’t!    

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