Being a new series is hard work. Readers finish the first installment, eager to jump into the next, but it doesn't release for another twelve months and memory dims. Interest fades. When book two is finally delivered, the process begins all over again.
Well, N.D. Wilson's 100 Cupboards trilogy is officially sealed and seasoned: you no longer have any excuse.
From the publisher: When Henry York found 99 cupboards hidden behind his bedroom wall, he never dreamed they were doors to entirely new worlds! Unfortunately, Henry’s discovery freed an ancient, undying witch, whose hunger for power would destroy every world connected to the cupboards—and every person whom Henry loves. Henry must seek out the legendary Chestnut King for help. Everything has a price, however, and the Chestnut King’s desire may be as dangerous as the witch herself. N. D. Wilson concludes a remarkable, worlds-spanning journey that began with one boy and one hundred avenues to adventure.
Once more I find myself protesting in a review: complex worlds with mazy customs and tongue-twisting names are not my cup of tea. But Wilson writes more than that. He combines, to quote Tamora Pierce, "the secret and the ordinary." Kansas and Hylfing. Black blades and baseball. Dream-walking and fathers and cousins and dandelions. And then slowly, you realize that the lines between "the secret and the ordinary" are blurred. Not just in other worlds. In ours.
People gush all the time about writers who weave words. Whose prose sings. Friend, countryman, show me the writers. I will show you N.D. Wilson.
When the faeren speak... Wilson has created his own delicious, lilting language of colloquialisms which, despite its beauty, you can actually hear someone speaking. Your eyes follow the words and you cannot help the desire to laugh out loud and repeat them out loud. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I can only compare it to the words that flow from Lord Peter Whimsey's mouth. And you know Harriet married him just to hear him talk piddle. So this faeren-speak is good.
However, The Chestnut King is not all about pretty prattle. There is plot, and there is character, pressed down and shaken together and running over.
If you've never tried N.D. Wilson, I suggest acclimating yourself with Leepike Ridge, a fantastic stand-alone. Then, after your toes are wet and warm, scoop all three novels in the 100 Cupboards trilogy. You'll want to chain-read them. You'll get to chain-read them. Lucky you.