Word Spelunking

The Cabinet of Earths - Anne Nesbet Actual Rating: 3.5 / 5 StarsTHREE-ish WORDS: Indefinably, yet Undeniably CompellingMY REVIEW: Anne Nesbet’s The Cabinet of Earths shines with its an unusual, yet captivating premise, endearing heroine and enchanting writing.Maya Davidson’s family has just moved from California to Paris, France; a move that Maya is anything but happy about. But unlike Maya, her family is excited about the move- her father has been given a fellowship at The Society of Philosophical Chemistry, her five year old brother James can fit in anywhere and has no problems charming anyone, and her mother, who has survived cancer, is looking forward to reconnecting with distant relatives. Maya soon discovers that her family tree is full of secrets, and maybe even magic. When the mysterious Cabinet of Earths chooses Maya to be its next Keeper, Maya finds herself entranced by its beauty and power, but she’s not the only one. Maya’s maybe-uncle Henri is not what he seems and little James just might be in danger.When I say that this book is indefinably, yet undeniably compelling, I mean just that- I was completely captivated by the story and Nesbet’s writing, but I can’t exactly put my finger on why. There is just something wonderfully alluring and likable about this clever and surprisingly touching book.The Cabinet of Earth moves a little slower than most MG books I’m used to, and I did notice the pacing was a bit off, but overall, I didn’t find these things too distracting. Nesbet’s writing is quite beautiful and, at times, almost lyrical in places. I found myself very mesmerized by Nesbet’s ability to create very tangible emotions and moods.Both the magical and the “real” world settings that Nesbet has crafted are very vivid and concrete. I had no problems envisioning the streets of Paris in my mind and I felt as if I were experiencing this magnificent city with Maya and not just reading about it. The magical and fantasy elements are wondrously original, whimsical, yet un-expectantly thought-provoking. I’ve never experienced anything quite like the magical Cabinet full of life itself with its many jars brimming with the essence of a person’s being. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure I fully comprehend or “get” the Cabinet’s purpose, but I’m fascinated by it nonetheless.Maya is a complex heroine and I like her for many reasons. On the one hand she’s had to grow up quickly and deal with the consequences of her mother’s sickness, yet on the other hand she still has the curiosity and wonderment of a child. I admire her stubborn and perceptive nature and connected with her fierce protectiveness of her little brother. James is a charming, lovable little guy and Maya’s mother is a quirky, delightful grown up character. Valko, Maya’s new friend, is also a very likable and endearing character. We don’t get to learn too much about him in this volume, but I really enjoyed their friendship. And of course, the dastardly villain is excitedly wicked.I did find Maya’s journey eventful, but I do wish there was a bit more adventure or thrills, especially considering its intended MG audience. However, I was very invested in Maya’s emotional journey, especially with the heavy weight her mother’s illness has placed upon her very young shoulders.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Anne Nesbet has certainly captivated me with her imaginative premise and wonderful writing, even if there were fewer thrills in this MG book than I’m used to. The Cabinet of Earths is an intriguing beginning in what I am sure will be an entertaining series…I will definitely be reading the sequel.Read more reviews at Word Spelunking

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