The Cabinet of Earths
Cabinet of Earths
Anne Nesbet
ISBN 9780061963131
HarperCollins, 2012.
4 stars
Keywords: anne-nesbet cabinet-earths french-resistance friendship history magic mystery science

The Cabinet of Earths
by Anne Nesbet

This debut novel of intrigue, family betrayal and an unsolved case of missing children will grip your young readers from first page to last.

In 1944 Paris, a youthful woman acts as keeper of the Cabinet of Earths, filled with beautiful bottles. Each bottle contains the “earth” of a person and holds time at a standstill; as long as his or her earth remains in its bottle, the human being will not age. But when one of the keeper’s sons betrays the other, she embraces her mortality and bequeaths her vocation to her four-year-old grandson, Henri-Pierre Fourcroy. Slave to the cabinet and now in his sixties, Henri awaits a worthy successor. Enter 13-year-old Maya Davidson, whose family heads from California to Paris for her father’s work as a scientist.

First-time author Anne Nesbet incorporates elements of French history into a modern-day mystery. Maya, who is not taken in by the “beautiful people” at her school, strikes up a friendship with Valko, a transplant from Bulgaria who’s always up for adventure. Maya’s gregarious five-year-old brother, James, leads her and Valko to all sorts of interesting people, including two feuding men named Henri Fourcroy—who both turn out to be Maya’s relatives. Maya has little interest in her “invisible” Cousin Louise—until Maya realizes that her cousin is central to unlocking the mystery of the beautiful people who never seem to age. Readers will be swept along by the novel’s swift pace and enjoy the mystery’s unraveling with Maya and Valko as their companions.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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