Monday, January 30, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday -- THE CABINET OF EARTHS




The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet (January 3, 2012, Harpercollins, for ages 10 and up)

Author's website

Source:  advanced reading copy from publisher

Synopsis: Maya and her perfect little brother James move to Paris with their father, a chemist, and their mother, a cancer survivor. There, Maya meets a mysterious old uncle Henri and a sinister young uncle also, strangely enough, named Henri. With the help of an almost-invisible cousin Louise, and a classmate named Valko, Maya begins to learn of a supernatural underworld in which the beautiful people stay young forever.  Most importantly, Maya discovers the Cabinet of Earths, kept by the old Uncle Henri. The extraordinary cabinet seems to hold the secret of immortality and it wants Maya to be its new Keeper.

Why I liked it: A thoroughly original fantasy, mystery, and horror novel rolled into one impressive book. As I read this, I had to remind myself it was a debut novel.  This is a winner!  Anne Nesbet has done an excellent job of world-building.  She writes with a sure hand.  The publisher calls this a fantasy and compares it to Coraline, and I could understand that. But at its heart, Cabinet of Earths is a moving story about a girl who's worried about her mother.  It's written in third person close, which totally works for this. There's a strong sense of place (maybe it helps that I've been to Paris -- but I suspect even if you haven't you'll sense the charm of the City of Light).  The mystery is perfectly paced, a little complex and a bit scary, which is why it may not be suitable for younger readers.

What's your favorite middle-grade fantasy?

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. Other regulars include (but are not limited to):

Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Barbara Watson at her blog
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin at Middle Grade Mafioso
Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty
Ms. Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads
Danika Dinsmore at The Accidental Novelist
Jennifer Rumberger at her blog
Akoss at Nye Louwon--My Spirit
Gabrielle Prendergast at angelhorn
Sheri Larsen at her blog

Gina Carey at her blog

23 comments:

  1. I can't wait to read this. I'm supposed to get an ARC or book from my interview with Anne.

    I just finished Seeing Cinderella and loved it.

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    1. Hi Natalie! Do you ever sleep? You are always the first to comment on my blog. Thanks! And I'm thrilled to hear you're interviewing Anne.

      I haven't seen Cinderella yet. Glad you liked it.

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  2. This one is already on my wish list! Great review, Joanne. :-)

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  3. This one is already on my wish list! Great review, Joanne. :-)

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  4. This sounds so fascinating! Coraline kinda freaked me out (and my daughter too), so maybe I'm too squeamish for this? But I'm so intrigued...

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    1. It is fascinating, Barbara. And not as weird as Coraline. I think you and your daughter could handle it! :)

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  5. This is inching up my (physical) TBR stack. After your review, I've moved it near the top!

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    1. Thanks, Michael! I do the same thing when an MMGMer raves about something.

      Hope you like it.

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  6. I've been wanting to read this one for some time now. Best get on it! Thinking I'd do well to get my own copy (hardcover!)

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    1. Oh yes, Deb! You really need a copy of this one!

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  7. I hadn't seen this. Sounds wonderful and I'm excited to see the world building.

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    1. It's excellent, Pam! Hope you get a chance to read it.

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  8. So funny, because I'm reading this RIGHT NOW. I started reading it with my 6 year old, but he hasn't really gotten into it (I think the pacing isn't compelling enough for him, but that's okay because he's a little younger than the targeted age).

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    1. Oh, that IS funny! I think this might be a little too complex for a 6 year old. Hope you enjoy it, though.

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  9. Sounds interesting. Fantasy isn't high on my list of likes in a book, but I can see why those who like fantasy would love it.

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    1. Hi Jennifer! Yes, not everyone likes fantasy. I have to keep reminding myself of that. But this is a fantasy grounded in the real world, which is my favorite kind.

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  10. I just got this and I'm excited to read it. I like fantasy but not high fantasy. This book seems to be more like magical realism. My fave fantasy is The Giver.

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    1. Magical realism is probably the best way to describe a book like this. I thought about calling it that in my blurb, but the publisher calls it a fantasy. It's the real Paris, but with a supernatural underworld. Kind of cool!

      And I absolutely LOVE The Giver. Definitely in my list of top ten all-time best children's books ever written. I've read it many times! Thanks, Brooke.

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  11. oh, maybe I'll add this to my list! Interested to know which of the 110 books you read in 2011 are your top recs? (incidentally, I am still blown away by that number!)

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  12. Ahaha, Corey! Now you're putting me on the spot. I'm sure you've read a lot of books too.

    If I was forced to narrow it down to a top 10, for YA: DIVERGENT, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, THE NAME OF THE STAR and SCORPIO RACES. For MG: MAY B., WORDS IN THE DUST, STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA, BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX and CABINET OF EARTHS. How did I choose? These are the titles that stayed with me the longest (although I'm cheating a bit because I read CABINET OF EARTHS fairly recently). When I look back at that list of 110 books, I realize how little I remember about some of those books!

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation!