84 pages 2 hours read

N. D. Wilson

100 Cupboards

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2007

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Summary and Study Guide


100 Cupboards is the first novel in a series of young adult fantasy books following main character Henry York, a boy who moves to Henry, Kansas with his aunt and uncle after his parents are kidnapped during a bike expedition in South America. One night, Henry and his adventurous cousin, Henrietta, discover a key to their deceased grandfather's locked bedroom; inside, they uncover a network of cupboards that each open into a different, fantastical world. Then, Henrietta disappears, and Henry has to go on a mission through the many worlds of the cupboards to find her and bring her home.

Henry and his loving, overprotective, and somewhat distant parents have gone on a trip to South America. During their trip, Henry's parents are kidnapped, leaving Henry a temporary, or perhaps even permanent, orphan. Henry's Aunt Dottie and Uncle Frank agree to take him in to raise him until his parents are found, so Henry moves to their house in Kansas to live with his three cousins, Henrietta, Anastasia, and Penelope.

Henry finds his aunt and uncle very strange, though loving, and supportive of him and his experience losing his parents. His aunt is much like his mother, but is Uncle Frank, who works selling tumbleweeds on eBay, seems to be carrying a secret. Uncle Frank introduces Henry to baseball and pocketknives, two of his hobbies, and Henry begins to bond with his uncle despite his eccentricities.

On Henry's first night in the house, he leaves his attic bedroom to go to the bathroom and discovers a stranger in the bathroom. He waits and a small man emerges and enters his grandfather's bedroom, which has been locked for the entirety of the two years since he died. When Henry returns to his room, he finds that the ceiling of his bedroom has cracked, and one hundred tiny cupboards locked with two master locks have emerged. Confused, Henry enlists Henrietta's help to investigate the next day when they are home alone. They find a key that leads them to their grandfather's bedroom, and a journal that serves as a map to the one hundred cupboards.

Soon after the discovery of the cupboards, Henrietta goes missing. Knowing that she has disappeared into the cupboards, Henry uses the journal to find her inside a decrepit old ballroom in a ruined city. Henrietta is safe, but soon after finding her, she and Henry realize that unless the master locks are put back in place, they can't return to their home in Kansas. To keep themselves safe until they can figure out how to get home, they hide in one of the dark cupboards.

While hiding, Henry and Henrietta see a band of people with domesticated wolves called “Witch-Dogs” attack and kill some travelers exploring the cupboards. Meanwhile, Uncle Frank realizes where Henry and Henrietta have gone and attempts to rescue them. Aunt Dottie explains to her other children that their father emerged from the cupboards long ago; the cupboards were built by their great-grandfather, and the key passed down through generations.

While trying to rescue the kids, a witch named Nimiane emerges from the cupboard and attacks the family. She stabs Frank and Dottie and is strengthened by Frank's blood. Henry and Henrietta follow the witch back to the attic, where they struggle to push the witch back into her world. They are helped by a neighbor boy Zeke, who arrives to ask Henry if he wants to play baseball and uses his bat to knock Nimiane out cold. Henry and Henrietta push the witch back into the eighth cupboard and then get medical attention for their aunt and uncle.

The book ends when Uncle Frank explains that he came from the cupboard and that a mysterious creature called a raggant, which looks like a small flying rhinoceros, has come looking for him. Meanwhile, Henry receives a threatening letter and Nimiane, back in her cupboard, plots revenge.

American N.D. Wilson is the author of a number of series of young adult adventure and fantasy novels. The 100 Cupboards trilogy, his first series, consists of 100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire, and The Chestnut King. He has also written the Ashtown Burials series, the Outlaws of Time series, and a number of standalone novels and picture books. Wilson studied theology and liberal arts and had a childhood interest in writing fiction.