“And rage welled up in her, welled up and spilled over. She almost couldn’t speak, she was so angry….most of all at herself, Maya. Who always came too late. Who always did the wrong thing. Who couldn’t save anyone, not even her brother.”
The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet introduces Maya, age 12, whose family moves to Paris due to a job offer by the mysterious Society of Philosophical Chemistry, just as her mother is recovering from a serious illness. Along with her new friend Valko, Maya begins to discover a web of intriguing connections between her extended family and the Society. She meets a distant relative who guards the Cabinet of Earths – a collection of old magical bottles that Maya is deeply drawn to. When she discovers the Society’s secret magical substance, she hopes it might save her possibly-still-sick mother. But the head of the Society – the adversary – steals Maya’s little brother before she can try to save her mother, and instead she must rescue him.
Once Maya learns the secret of the Cabinet of Earths, she knows she must destroy it, but the Cabinet tempts her, and she begins forgetting her mission. There appears to be a betrayal by a companion. She may be too late in saving her brother. All seems almost lost when she finally squares off against her adversary, holding his very life in her hands.