100 Cupboards by Nathan Wilson
Henry York is an ordinary boy who has been overly sheltered by his parents. When they are kidnapped while biking in South America, he is sent to stay with his Uncle Frank and Aunt Dotty in Kansas (Dotty is a nickname for Dorothy...GEDDITGEDDIT?). That's when everything starts turning weird. He wakes up one night to find plaster falling on his bed, and discovers that cupboards have pushed their way out of the wall. Lots of cupboards. Each leads to another world, and it seems there must be one in his grandfather's old bedroom, constantly locked; he sees a short man leave the room to use the bathroom at one point. He and his cousin Henrietta start investigating the cupboards, ignoring the dire warnings that they could awaken an ancient evil.
Nathan Wilson writes these books with a matter-of-fact realism that just seems to work in fantasies like these. He follows Henry's train of thought very well and very realistically, while showing that he is much more than he seems to be. It is telling, too, that Henry's doubts about himself first start being conquered, not by grand adventures in other worlds, but simply by playing baseball for the first time and finding out he's really not that horrible. Little victories lead to bigger ones.
I think the matter-of-fact tone is what makes this stand out. Even when the characters not acquainted with the oddness sees it, they just set to work to do what they must (i.e. Zeke). Henry is easy to relate to, as is Henrietta. The book went fast but it wasn't constant action; the flow was just right.
4.5/5 (.5 for Henrietta being a heroine with curly hair)