On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Mayas own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes . . . nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya?
With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family trees brother. And now the shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths, at the heart of all these secrets, has chosen Maya to be its new Keeper.
As she untangles the ties between the Salamander House, the purple-eyed man, and the Cabinet of Earths, Maya realizes that her own brother may be in terrible danger. To save him, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late.
This was such an expectedly marvelous tale that I really do think I want to buy a copy for my collection now. Recently, I have been getting drawn in by middle-grade novels that are just as good as their synopses promise. The Cabinet of Earths is no different. I really loved the narrative voice and the tone in which the story is told. There’s a particularly inviting note to it that welcomes you to come into the story, relax and let yourself be carried away by Maya and Valko.
I also admired the way the author tackles the very serious themes of sick parents and ties it in to the overarching story. She doesn’t revert to the expected melodrama and instead gives us a candid look at how it feels to have sick parents. Or a sick parent. This is a common enough trope in novels aimed at young audiences but I felt that Nesbet did a splendid job portraying the effect of a sick mother on the psyche of children.
The pace is just right as is the plot. There are no holes in the logic and there is, I feel, a believable progression of events that deliver us to the conclusion without making it feel too neat and contrived. The characters are all wonderfully etched and I just enjoyed this novel a lot. It has everything you could possible need or want from a novel – no matter how old you are. There is magic, friendship, danger and betrayal. And of course, a strong heroine who goes against all odds to save the people she loves. Strongly recommended.