Dandelion Fire, by N.D. Wilson, is the second book in the 100 Cupboards series . This sequel takes the main character, Henry York and his family through the cupboards and back to their real home, a home only familiar to some. The story follows Henrietta and Henry's journey through the unfamiliar worlds of Badon Hill, Fitzfaeren and Hylfing. He meets the regimented faeren, encounters the evil Darius again and reunites with family members, familiar and unfamiliar. Things are not what they seem. A gnarled tree is actually a gateway, darkness is actually "light, at rest" and faeren can twist and turn their bodies in unnatural ways. Henry is on a mission to save Hylfing from the evil witch of Endor, who controls Darius's body and drains the life out of every city in this alternate world. Henry changes from a young boy, pampered and protected all his life, to a brave young man and leader.
I loved the beginning of this story because Henry's family fought together against Darius. I loved the dialogue Darius delivered before they all went back through the cupboards to prepare for their epic battle. It challenged me to align my thoughts with the evil Darius to follow what he was trying to express to Henry. The middle of the story was just too full of strangeness and unfamiliarity. The jumbled word combinations forced me to read so slowly to understand what Wilson was saying, it was difficult for me to imagine a 12 year old not getting bored. I felt like the main character never got a rest, never found anything he could connect to - like he was heading in the right direction, but never knew what would happen or saw anyone or any symbol he knew for most of the book. Some readers may enjoy that aspect, but I felt it lasted too long and made me feel exhausted.
The last section of the book was the epic battle, which was very well written and I was thrilled to read of his strong male relatives fighting side by side with him. It's not often that an elder male character, let alone two or three, is given the role of the protector over the main character and for that I give the book **** 1/2 Four and a half STARS!