I recently read a Gospel Coalition article on N. D. Wilson, author of numerous children’s fantasy novels. Though I had never heard of him, the piece intrigued me because it discussed Wilson’s desire to present children with dangerous villains in order to show them such evil can be overcome. That way, when they inevitably meet danger and difficulty in reality, they already have a taste of courage and heroism. It reminded me of a quote from C. S. Lewis: “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” 1 I appreciate this intention in these men’s story-crafting, and I wanted to see what Wilson had created. I started with one of his earlier series, 100 Cupboards. Since the trilogy is really one whole story, I’m not going to talk about them individually, but here are the categories in the reading challenge I counted them for:
- 100 Cupboards – a book with magic
- Dandelion Fire – a book about relationships or friendship
- The Chestnut King – a novel longer than 400 pages
The 100 Cupboards series is about a boy named Henry who is sent to stay with his aunt and uncle in Kansas and uncovers 100 little doorways in his bedroom wall. He discovers the cupboards lead to other worlds – some beautiful and interesting, others dangerous and frightening. As he tries to understand the portals and the evil he discovered there, Henry comes to learn more about the history of the cupboards, his family, and himself. Wilson creates an imaginative and deep fantasy world populated with quirky and endearing characters. The writing is engaging and the storyline moves at a quick pace. If you and/or your children enjoy well-crafted fantasy such as the Lords of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games series, you’ll enjoy the 100 Cupboards series.
1 On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature, C. S. Lewis