Skip to main content

The Door Before

Look! It's a review. I actually had enough time to read a whole new to me book and write about it. Things are getting back to a normal here, people.

I became a fan of N.D. Wilson's writing after the release of his very first book Leepike Ridge. I am an enthusiastic fan and pusher of both his 100 Cupboards trilogy and Ashtown Burials series. His latest book, The Door Before, is billed as a prequel to the 100 Cupboards, but it is also a prequel to the Ashtown Series as well.

Hyacinth Smith has a gift. Her father refers to it as a green touch. Hyacinth just knows she can coax life from growing things making them larger and bigger-giving them the power to reach their full potential. Hyacinth's family has always traveled around, staying in other people's homes and doing odd jobs. Now they finally have a home of their own, but the family is splitting up. Her older siblings are going to a special camp for children in the Order her parents are a part of. Her parents are going to an important meeting for that same Order. She is being left (along with her younger brother) at the new house, which is currently occupied by an odd great aunt who is cultivating a field of lightning struck trees. It turns out Granlea has been trying to open doors to other worlds and is responsible for letting in an ancient evil force. She also let in two boys determined to face off against that evil. Hyacinth teams up with these boys as they all desperately try to survive and keep the evil from spreading.

Hyacinth has a quiet strength and calmness about her that helps her get through even the toughest of situations and hardest of times. She is often scared and terrified, but she is good at persevering. Readers of the 100 Cupboards trilogy will recognize this in her, as it is the same quiet strength matured by age she has in that trilogy. Family is fiercely important to Hyacinth and she loves her siblings as much as she loves to be quiet and observe the world around her. She is a main character whose life and mind it is easy for a reader to slip into and assume. Her interactions with Mordecai and Caleb upon meeting them are interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed Caleb's humor, wit, and common sense. (Again, traits we see matured but still there in his later life.) It was slightly more difficult for me to get a real handle on Mordecai. He is full of angst and a healthy dose of a martyr complex for sure. He seems to change his mind about  Hyacinth awfully fast and for little reason I could see except the plot required him to start trusting her. I also felt like there wasn't enough relationship development between Mordecai and Hyacinth in this book to justify Caleb's comment at the end that Mordecai was keeping Hyacinth near for himself and not for her. Readers of Wilson's other books know that they obviously eventually develop a close relationship as they are the parents of the hero of the 100 Cupboards books, but taking this book on its own, it didn't make sense.

The plot of The Door Before is fast paced. There is a lot going on and the scenes jump quickly from one to another with a lot of action and peril. Nimiane is full of rage and anger over the loss of her eyes and bent on avenging herself on Caleb and Mordecai. The Smiths happen to be in her way so she will crush them too because she can. Nimiane is truly great villain in every sense of the word. She always has been, but here you get to see her prior to her years of entrapment full of rage, power, and with an organized force. It takes everything the heroes have to hold her back and attempt to stop to her.

 This is the shortest of Wilson's books in either the Cupboards or the Ashtown series and it relies quite heavily on world building already accomplished in both. The Order isn't really explained and the references to Henry, Kansas might be a tad confusing to any reader who is starting with this book. That being said, I do think it can be read and enjoyed on its own. You don't have to fully understand the Order to see what it does and how messed up it is in this book. You may question why the author cared enough about this random town to actually mention it specifically, but it won't throw you out of the story. If it's read first, it should lead to readers to the other two series. And then it would be fun to go back and look at it with fresh eyes and all that combined knowledge.

If you've already read the Cupboards Trilogy and the Ashtown Burials, you definitely want to read this too. It's an action filled, satisfying story that gives some insight into the past and there are a lot of cameos from characters you know and love you will appreciate.


Kim Aippersbach said…
Wait, 100 Cupboards and Ashtown are in the same multiverse?? (I think my question just answered itself. But I had no idea!) Should I have recognized this? I want to reread both series now!
Brandy said…
There wasn't an indication they were before this, but YES! And actually Cyrus and Henry are first cousins. Henry's mom (Hyacinth) is a Smith. She's Cyrus and Antigone's aunt.

Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein


Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a


On Tuesday I posted my Top Ten Books Read so Far in 2013 and promised to highlight more of this year's favorites and offer them in giveaways. This is the YA giveaway. This is open to anyone who lives where Book Depository ships for free . Book Choices: TO ENTER: Leave a comment below saying which book looks most interesting to you and leave a way I can reach you if you are the winner. (email address or twitter handle-If you are using Twitter it would be helpful if you followed me, @brandymuses , in case I need to DM you.) Entries after Monday, July 1 8:00 PM EST are invalid. The winner will be drawn as close to 8 as possible.  Yes, I still do my giveaways the old fashioned way.