Thirteen-year-old Maya Davidson and her family have just moved to Paris, where her father has been given a yearlong fellowship. She’s not at all happy about leaving behind her home and friends in California, but her mother, who is recovering from cancer, wanted to do it, and she can’t find it in herself to complain about it to her mom. Even so, she’s not eagerly embracing all of the opportunities of the city that’s home to the Eiffel Tower, or, as her five-year-old brother James calls it, the Evil Tower.
Maya and James set out to take a look around their new neighborhood, and they immediately are introduced to some strange people and places. One is a building with all kinds of odd decorations on it, including a doorknob with a salamander on it, which Maya is sure actually moved. Another is a handsome young man whom they see near that building and then at their own apartment. Both are connected to a mysterious society that is the very same one that funded their father’s year of work.
Things just get odder and odder, as Maya meets her mother’s “poor Cousin Louise,” who just is kind of invisible, she’s so nondescript, and as Maya finds out about a group of beautiful young people who seem to have some kind of connection with the mysterious society. Not the least of the unusual things she runs into is an old man who has a beautiful decorated cabinet in his apartment that just seems to be calling to Maya.
All this would simply be a little strange until James is put into danger, and Maya must make some difficult decisions. Could magic be at all real? Can science really explain everything? And does she have the strength to do the right thing for everyone, even the mother who seems to be sick again?
The Cabinet of Earths is a fine fantasy for young readers with just enough danger and intrigue to keep them on their toes. The love between the family members, Maya and her parents and each of them and James, is sweet to read as well.