Reviews for Cabinet of Earths

Booklist Reviews 2012 January #1
When 13-year-old Maya's family relocates to Paris, she finds herself facing expected and unexpected troubles. Given her father's preoccupation with scientific study and her mother's difficult cancer recovery, Maya knows that looking after her precocious little brother, James, will largely fall to her. She does not anticipate, however, being pulled towards the strange Cabinet of Earths--complete with an animate salamander handle--which is calling for a new keeper. Furthermore, when the behavior of her preternaturally young cousin goes from suspicious to menacing, Maya must match wits to rescue James and protect her family. In her debut novel, Nesbet has crafted a carefully imagined, magical world--one that is shrouded in mystery and keeps the reader engaged and guessing. As Maya puts all the pieces together, a fuller picture emerges; indeed, the more Maya understands and masters the various forces at play, the better the reader will appreciate her emotional growth. With imaginative alchemy, compelling action, and sensitive characterizations, this novel will undoubtedly win over fantasy fans. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
In Paris with her family for a year, Maya finds herself in a life-or-death struggle after becoming keeper of the mysterious Cabinet of Earths. Maya's bright, engaged narrative voice whisks us along with breezy, intelligent energy; words are neatly fitted, nicely unpredictable, and resonant with multiple meanings. Nesbet's story is a-shimmer with magic, in plot, characters, and literary style.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #1
"Well! It is better to read fairy tales than to find yourself caught in them," Nesbet's narrator declares, a predictor of what is to be found in the subsequent pages -- for Nesbet's story is a-shimmer with magic, in plot, characters, and literary style. In Paris with her family for a year, Maya is bemused by many things: her cousin Louise ("too vague to be properly ordinary" and "less notable than people usually are, somehow"); the door handle next door (a bronze salamander that actually flicks its tongue at her); and the discovery of an elderly relative, keeper of the mysterious Cabinet of Earths. Then there are her family worries: her frail mother, recovering from chemotherapy; her overly charming little brother...Maya finds herself pondering the values of liveliness and mortality in a life-or-death struggle when she becomes next Keeper of the Cabinet of Earths. Nesbet's first novel is an impressive achievement, its substance and style gracefully blended. The bright, engaged narrative voice whisks us along with breezy, intelligent energy; words are neatly fitted, nicely unpredictable, and resonant with multiple meanings. Above all, Maya is a fully rounded, complex character, someone whose qualities and struggles are admirably and appealingly central to the fantasy. deirdre f. baker

Kirkus Reviews 2011 December #1
Paris. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Les Invalides. Then there's that sinister cult addicted to immortality. Prompted by her father's job offer and to ultimately fulfill the wish of her mother, 13-year-old Maya and her family uproot their lives in California for an across-the-pond move to Paris. Though she has her objections, Maya can hardly voice them to her mother, a delicate cancer survivor. So, despite her brewing frustrations, she is dutifully accommodating, all while acting as the unpaid babysitter for her ebullient younger brother, James, to smooth the transition. However, Maya and James soon discover a hypnotically alluring cabinet, peculiar branches in their family tree and an underground society with a morbid recipe for staying eternally young. Though it's easy to generalize this as a coming-of-age tale, Nesbet more specifically pinpoints this as the story of a young girl coming to terms with mortality while realizing that finding her intrinsic worth makes her content and also inspires her appreciation of those around her. The underground society (to which Maya and her brother are more closely tied than she could have ever imagined) morphs from simply a strange affair to an intriguing mystery to downright chills. While touches of the ever-popular fantasy theme of vampirism are definitely there, they are appropriately held at bay. A charmingly creepy European vacation for fans of chillers and thrillers. (Suspense. 12-15) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 November #1

Nesbet's auspicious debut novel plunges readers into the story of 13-year-old Maya and her five-year-old brother, James, who are descendants of two feuding families with expertise in science and magic. After the siblings' chemist father receives a fellowship, Maya and her family move from Cali-fornia to Paris, where she quickly becomes enmeshed in a mystery involving the disappearance of local children in decades past; "anbar," an alchemical substance with rejuvenating powers; and the strange and beautiful Cabinet of Earths that seems to call out to her. With her mother's health in decline, James the target of evil forces, and distant relatives coming out of the woodwork, Maya decides to answer the call of the cabinet, despite the dangers, to try to set things right. Blending elements of magic, science, and even horror with evocative prose and a confident narrative voice, Nesbet immerses readers in her contemporary Parisian setting. At its heart, this is a story about change, as Maya struggles to accept unwelcome developments while growing aware of the sinister extent to which some will go in the name of self-preservation. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 May

Gr 4-8--Twelve-year-old Maya Davidson; her five-year-old brother, James; and their parents have moved to Paris from California while her father works on a research fellowship. Maya's mother, who is recovering from cancer treatment, has always dreamed of living there, so Maya tries to be positive in spite of feeling extremely out of place. As the siblings begin to explore the city, Maya sees a salamander-shaped doorknob that seems to move, meets a strange man with dark glasses, and is introduced to an almost-invisible cousin named Louise. With the help of her new friend Valko, she begins to learn about her family's secret past and their role as caretakers of the mysterious Cabinet of Earths and its magical glass jars. When James disappears, Maya has to use what she has learned and the mysteries that surround her to save her brother, escape her family's dark legacy, and try to find a new beginning. Maya's story opens slowly and then unfolds more and more rapidly as readers join Maya, Louise, and Valko in combining the clues they gather into an understanding of what the Cabinet of Earths is and its power of time. Maya is a fully realized character, well aware of her social awkwardness compared to her charismatic younger brother, and readers will be rooting for her to find her strengths and save the day. This unique fantasy will catch its audience's attention and leave them thinking about time, families, and immortality.--Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI

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VOYA Reviews 2011 December
"It was his own grandmother who fed Henri-Pierre to the Cabinet of Earths, long ago when he was only four." With this opening line, Anne Nesbet's fantasy novel instantly hooks readers and keeps them engaged throughout the entire story. Although the novel opens up with poor Henri's tale, thirteen-year-old Maya and her five-year-old brother James take center stage when they move to Paris and discover the Cabinet of Earths and its sinister secrets. Henri's ancestors found a way to merge science and magic, which they used to achieve immortality, but at a terrible cost. Maya has enough on her plate, dealing with homesickness, jealousy, and her mother's cancer, but the Cabinet of Earths chooses her as its next keeper. Maya must decide between saving her mother's life and doing what she knows is right Nesbet has written a unique, interesting fantasy with just enough suspense to keep readers turning the pages long into the night. The language is descriptive and lively; the Cabinet of Earths and the mysterious Henri-Pierre's house leap off the pages. Fantasy readers of all ages, especially middle school students, will enjoy this story.--Jen McIntosh 4Q 4P M Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.