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Bewildering Stories

N. D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Book 2 of the 100 Cupboards

reviewed by Jerry Wright

Dandelion Fire
Author: N. D. Wilson
Publisher: Random House
Books for Young Readers (Feb. 24, 2009)
Hardcover: $16.99
Length: 480 pp.
ISBN-10: 037583883X
ISBN-13: 978-0375838835
Well, Random House is sending me books again, and they aren’t books for teen-aged girls. (Well, I’m getting THOSE as well, but you won’t be reading reviews of Ann Brasheare’s latest here...) Anyway, I dragged this book along with me on my trip down to Santa Rosa. And it was well worth the luggage space.

Of course, naturally, I haven’t read Book One, which logically is called 100 Cupboards, but this book, after a bit of slogging, took off, and pretty well stood on its own. The author, N.D. Wilson, spins a great yarn.

The protagonist, young (well obviously... this is a YA book, after all) Henry York has two weeks left of a visit to Kansas visiting his aunt and uncle. He then will have to return to Boston to decide which of his divorcing parents gets him. Unless, of course, he can find his REAL parents who are lost somewhere in these magical hundred cupboards.

Seems that in the previous book, Henry found a key that allows access to a hundred cupboards concealed in the attic of his grandfather’s house. He released, and then trapped, a wicked queen/witch on the other side of one of the cupboards, which are openings to other times and other universes.

In the meantime, his really obnoxious cousin Henrietta has hidden the key to the cupboards. Though the cupboards are closed, somehow a bizarre little creature called a raggant (sort of a winged rhinoceros the size of a spaniel) has found Henry anyway.

Henrietta finally decides to help Henry, but as he delves into his past and just who he is, he releases a green and gold “dandelion fire” that roars through his body, and ends up blinding him. And now, he is sought by a necromancer named Darius, who wants him for his own nefarious purpose. We visit other times and places, and meet the faeren, the elvish people formerly enslaved by the wicked queen, who also want Henry, or want Henry to die, depending.

The writing is extremely well done, and is one of those books that cries to be read aloud, and the prose echos G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis. I’d definitely recommend reading 100 Cupboards first, but Dandelion Fire is eminently readable without having read the first book.

Is this going to be a long drawn out series? Well, there are other cupboards, but the story does reach a satisfying conclusion, and the reader will be happy with the ending.

Copyright © 2009 by Jerry Wright

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