Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Review: The Cabinet of Earths

Another book from the Enchanted Inkpot giveaway, I'll admit I was a bit confused when I got this package since the return address was, if I recall correctly, the Slavic department at UNC Berkly. I figured out what was going on quickly enough but it was an amusing moment none the less.

The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet

It took me a little while to recognize what scene, and characters, were being shown on the cover but I love the art on it regardless. It's very true to the book and has a lovely amount of detail on it and is certainly eye-grabbing.
Summary: In order to help her mother recover from cancer, Maya and her family have moved to Paris and Maya is less than pleased about this.  But her unhappiness soon turns to curiosity as Paris turns out different than she expected with strange relatives and seemingly magical houses and then to alarm as her relatives seem to have sinister plans for her younger brother.

The Good: The setting was very neat both because of how it was described with tons of detail and because I come across fewer stories set in Paris (well, France in general) so it feels fresher to me vs another fantasy story set in Generic Small Town America (TM) or England. I also liked how magic worked it's way into the story since it's not another story with magic and wizards on every corner but with magic hiding off in a corner yet very obviously present at the same time. It feels more like magical realism (believe I have the right term here) than urban fantasy and I don't see much of that genre so that was rather nice. 

The Bad: This was a book I wanted to like, thought I would like, and gave it a fair shot but in the end it just didn't grab me at all. I think part of this is that the book feels more like a middle grade book (which are aimed at late elementary school to middle school) vs a young adult book (late middle school to high school) and just didn't have as much "crossover appeal." By that I mean, Maya is young and feels young, she's not as creative about her situation as a slightly older character might be and is more easily manipulated which, when you know how the story is going to end (since books with a genuinely tragic ending are rarely, if ever, published for this age group) and you stop caring about what the character does you stop caring how they get to that point as well.

So in the end this is another book I'll be donating to the local library once I get back to school with the hopes that other people enjoy the story more than I did. It's not bad, it's just not as enjoyable if you don't regularly enjoy middle grade books. And, unrelated to the review, again I am taking next week off so that I can try and reset my schedule so I can get back in the habit of blogging (on time) the week after. The schedule isn't changing, that will probably come late August, September for sure, I'm just trying to adjust a few things on my end in the meantime.