- Win a copy of THE KINDLING by Braden Bell (Ends 8/21)
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Ages 10 & up
On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Maya’s own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes . . . nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya?
With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family tree—grandmothers who walked in magic, a cousin so unremarkable she’s actually hard to see, and a terrible family habit of betraying one’s brother. And now the shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths, at the heart of all these secrets, has chosen Maya to be its new Keeper.
As she untangles the ties between the Salamander House, the purple-eyed man, and the Cabinet of Earths, Maya realizes that her own brother may be in terrible danger. To save him, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late.
I have a particular soft spot for books that are written well, that utilize the beauty of the English language. Many books for younger readers these days tend to be simple. I don't know how to explain what I mean, but some authors "write down" to their readers (as opposed to "talk down.") Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's a style many kids love, and that's just fine. But when I stumble across a book where the language is just as enjoyable to read as the story itself, then I know I've got something special.
THE CABINET OF EARTHS is one of those kinds of books. It's the story of a girl and her young brother who move to Paris with their parents and become embroiled in a mystery involving a strange magical cabinet, a nearly invisible Aunt, a beautiful violet-eyed Uncle, and an unusual substance called Anbar. This highly imaginative story kept me interested all the way through. Every time I finished a chapter, I had to turn the page and keep reading. And the ending left just enough open to entice me to read the sequel, A BOX OF GARGOYLES due out next year.
The language of the story is very fitting for a story set in France. The French characters are obviously French, while the American characters are obviously American. I have to say reading it was really a pleasure. It had the feeling of historical fiction, though it is most definitely a contemporary fantasy. The last middle grade book that felt that way for me (and it was a historical fantasy) was THE AVIARY by Kathleen O'Dell.
I have no choice but to give A CABINET OF EARTHS a much deserved...