The Door Before

240p. Random. Jun. 2017. Tr 16.99. ISBN 9780449816776.
Gr 4–7—When Hyacinth and her family arrive at their new home, they discover Great-Aunt Granlea, who refuses to leave. Using wood from the property's unnatural lightning tree forest, Granlea had created frame portals to other worlds. She recklessly allows hideous mushroom men to cross over, along with two brothers who are fleeing the undying witch-queen, Nimiane. Mordecai is a green man with the power to control grapevines. He and Caleb plan to finish the job their father began when he blinded Nimiane. Hyacinth, who has a gift for coaxing nearly dead trees back to life, uses her talent to escape through one of the trees after Nimiane. Traveling through trees and wooden boxes, Hyacinth, Mordecai, and Caleb eventually arrive in a faerie land and meet Kibs, who reluctantly agrees to help them capture Nimiane. This fast-paced fantasy features empathetic heroes and horrifying monsters and further defines the wickedness of the witch-queen villain in Wilson's "100 Cupboards" series. Followers may realize that Mordecai and Hyacinth are the true parents of Henry York, the hero of that trilogy, and recognize other characters, such as the little winged rhino-type raggants. Although this stand-alone fantasy doesn't fully explain how the cupboards came to be, it offers some insight into the popular series.
VERDICT One need not have read Wilson's "100 Cupboards" books to enjoy this engrossing prequel. A solid addition to most middle grade collections.

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