Sometimes, when you have been anticipating a new book in a series, it won’t measure up. Well, I’m happy to say that’s not the case with The Door Before. It was stunning.
The Door Before surprised me in multiple ways. First of all, it’s not just the prequel to Wilson’s 100 Cupboards Series, one of my very favorite middle-grade fantasy series. It’s ALSO a prequel for his Ashtown Burials series! Wilson so deftly weaves these two worlds together. It makes me wonder if he planned to combine their worlds all along.
The second thing that surprised me was this was not the story I was expecting. If you’ve read 100 Cupboards, you’ve probably wondered, as I have, where all those cupboards came from. The Door Before is not that story. It is a story that weaves together the previous generation the Smith family from Ashtown Burials with the threat of Nimiane, witch-queen of Endor, from 100 Cupboards and the family destined to stop her.
Like all of N.D. Wilson’s books for kids, his characters must overcome fear to fight evil and protect those they love. His protagonists are inspiring in all the best ways.
Who should read The Door Before?
I’ve been asked by several people if they should read The Door Before before the other series. As with most prequels, The Door Before is best enjoyed by those who have some knowledge of the world. However, I don’t think one needs to have read both series to enjoy the prequel. I’ve reviewed the 100 Cupboards series HERE. But know that the Ashtown Burials series is significantly darker. In general, I’d recommend it for kids 11 and up. The Door Before would make a great bridge if read between the two series.
Notably, this is the first N.D. Wilson book I’ve read that has a female lead protagonist (though most of his books have a strong secondary female character). In a recent conversation between Wilson and Jeanne Birdsall aired on the Read Aloud Revival Podcast, Wilson talks about wanting to write characters for his daughters who are “friends and allies in their quests to live good lives.” He has accomplished this goal with Hyacinth Smith.