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Book 2 of the 100 Cupboards

Written by N. D. WilsonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by N. D. Wilson



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On Sale: February 24, 2009
Pages: 480 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89248-6
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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On Sale: February 24, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7393-7858-8
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Henry York never dreamed his time in Kansas would open a door to adventure—much less a hundred doors. But a visit to his aunt and uncle’s farm took an amazing turn when cupboard doors, hidden behind Henry’s bedroom wall, revealed themselves to be portals to other worlds. Now, with his time at the farm drawing to a close, Henry makes a bold decision—he must go through the cupboards to find the truth about where he’s from and who his parents are. Following that trail will take him from one world to another, and ultimately into direct conflict with the evil of Endor.

N. D. Wilson and his wife live in Idaho. Also visit www.ndwilson.com.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Kansas is not easily impressed. It has seen houses fly and cattle soar. When funnel clouds walk through the wheat, big hail falls behind. As the biggest stones melt, turtles and mice and fish and even men can be seen frozen inside. And Kansas is not surprised.

Henry York had seen things in Kansas, things he didn’t think belonged in this world. Things that didn’t. Kansas hadn’t flinched.

The soles of Henry’s shoes were twenty feet off the ground. He had managed to slide open the heavy door in the barn loft, and after brushing the rust and flakes of red paint off his hands, he’d seated himself on the dust-covered planks and looked out over the ripening fields. Henry’s feet dangled, but Kansas sprawled.

Henry had changed in the short weeks since he’d stepped off the bus from Boston, been smothered by Aunt Dotty and taken to the old farmhouse, to the attic—to a new existence. He looked different, too, and it wasn’t just the cut across the backs of his fingers. That was scarring worse than it needed to only because he couldn’t stop himself from picking at it. The burns on his jaw were a lot more noticeable and had begun scarring as well. He didn’t like touching them. But he had to. Especially the one below his ear. It was turning into a divot as wide as his fingertip.

What had changed most about Henry York was inside his head. Things he had always known no longer seemed true. A world that had always felt like a slow and stable and even boring machine had suddenly come to life. And it was far from tame. He’d uncovered a wall of doors in his attic room, and now he didn’t know who he was. He didn’t know who his real parents were or whether he was even in the right world. He didn’t really know anything. Strangely, that was more comfortable than thinking that he did.

One month before, fresh off the bus from Boston, he would have been nervous sitting where he was, slowly bouncing his heels on the wall of the barn. One month before, he wouldn’t have believed that he could hit a baseball. Something wheezed beside him, and Henry turned. One month before, the world was still normal, and creatures like this one didn’t exist.

The raggant sniffed loudly and settled onto his haunches. His wings were tucked back against his rough charcoal skin and his blunt horn was, as always, lifted in the air.

Henry smiled. He always did when he looked at the animal. It was so proud and so very unaware of how it looked. At least Henry thought it had to be. Shaped like a small basset hound but wearing wings and a rhino’s face and skin, it was far from beautiful, but that didn’t stop it from being as proud and stubborn as a peacock. Like an otherworldly bloodhound, it had found Henry, cracking the plaster in the attic wall from inside a cupboard. The raggant had started everything. Whoever it was that had sent the raggant had started everything. Henry couldn’t even imagine who that might be.

“Do you know how strange you look?” Henry asked, and he reached over and grabbed the loose skin on the creature’s neck. It felt like sand-based dough, and as he squeezed, the raggant closed its black eyes and a low moan sputtered in its chest.

“I want to see you fly,” Henry said. “You know I will.” He glanced down at the ground and then back at the raggant. He could push it. Then it would have to fly. But it just might be proud enough not to, proud enough to tuck its wings tight and bounce in the tall grass. “Sometime,” Henry said.

The afternoon sun was falling, and Henry knew it wouldn’t be long before the barn’s shadow stretched across acres. Worse, it wouldn’t be long before the fields and the barn and all of Kansas became part of his past. His parents had been back from their ill-fated bicycle trip for a while, and he still hadn’t heard from them. That wasn’t too unusual. When they were just getting back from their photographed adventures, he rarely ever heard from them. The fact that they’d actually managed to get kidnapped this time would make their return crazier, would keep him safely off their minds for that much longer. But it couldn’t last. If they’d had any say in the matter, he never would have been sent to stay with his cousins at all. Now that they’d returned, they wouldn’t leave him in Kansas for school or even through the summer. He’d be back in Boston, on some new vitamin diet and meeting a new nanny, and then back to boarding school. Maybe a new one. His third.

Parents. He still thought of them that way. Would they ever have told him that Grandfather had found him in the attic? Not likely. Henry didn’t care that he’d been adopted. But it was hard not to care that his parents had never really been parents—not like Uncle Frank and Aunt Dotty were to his cousins. Henry had always known exactly where he was on his parents’ list of priorities.

Yesterday, he’d seen his parents on television. He’d been stirring his cereal and listening to his youngest cousin, Anastasia, complain about Richard when Uncle Frank called him. He’d hurried, and when he stepped into the room, Frank pointed. There, on a stiff couch in a television studio somewhere, sat Phillip and Ursula, smiling and nodding. They each had hands crossed on their knees. Ursula kept glancing at the camera. She looked like Henry’s aunt Dotty, but with all her edges hardened. The two of them talked about their amazing endurance, the difficulty of bicycling through the Andes, how they had never given up hope of finishing their trek even after being abducted in Colombia, the size of their book deal, and their discussions with film agents.

In a general way, Henry remembered all they had said. But there were two things that sat in the front of his mind, every syllable in concrete.

“Are you closer now?” the woman had asked them. “After going through all of this together?”

Ursula had leaned forward. Phillip had leaned back. “You know,” Ursula had said. “We’ve both changed a great deal during this whole process. We really need to get to know each other again. But first we need to get to know ourselves.”

Phillip had nodded.

Henry was pretty sure he knew what that meant.

And then the woman had asked about him.


From the Hardcover edition.
N. D. Wilson

About N. D. Wilson

N. D. Wilson - Dandelion Fire
Stories have always been in my life. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t listening to a story or being read to. When I was two, my father read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the family after dinner (the family at that point consisted of my mother, my older sister, and myself). My mother was fairly certain that I didn’t understand any of it. My father, however, pointed to scientific evidence: during the battle scenes, I always turned bright red and began sweating nervously in my high chair.
Once, while I was misbehaving in my bath (it only happened once), my older sister was commissioned to tell me a story. She began to recite the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe verbatim. Which should tell you how often we’d heard it.
At nights, my mother would compose stories for me (stories that she falsely insists were awful–mostly about a gentleman named Tiny Tim). I don’t remember any particular tale, but I do remember what they did to me, as I lay in bed, clutching Billy, my stuffed, hybrid monkey-bear, staring at the sloped ceiling in my room and listening to my mother’s voice and the washing machine chugging in the corner (yes, the washing machine was in my room). My father once wrote me a story, bound it in a blue folder, and read it to me. The story starred a young fellow who happened to share my name (Nathan), and who also happened to kill a goblin king with his baseball bat (something I still intend to do). I am extremely fond of that story, and I pay tribute to it with elements in both Leepike Ridge and 100 Cupboards (a character trapped underground, the handiness of baseball bats, a grub-eating wizard, and a couple other things that only my father and I will know about).
My grandfathers were both storytellers. Both were military men, and both lived through some truly strange experiences. Growing up in San Louis Obispo, my mom’s dad hunted small sharks with a modified garden hoe somewhere around the ripe old age of ten. He flew bombers in World War II and Korea, and I’ve watched old home movies of some of his bombing runs. I’ve also watched home movies of him sneaking onto the roof of the Vatican with his then eight-year-old son (my uncle Bob). To this day, when I’m with him, he can surprise me with new stories.
As for my dad’s dad, well, he was raised on a Nebraska farm. His parents (and, I believe, his older brother) had moved there in a covered wagon. But it was a posh covered wagon–rolling on cutting-edge rubber tires.
For as long as I remember, my grandfather has been traveling, returning, and telling stories. At a very early age, I announced to my parents that when I grew up, I was going to be like Grandpa and tell everyone about my trip. The only problem is that my trips haven’t been as interesting.
There’s a reason why I dedicated 100 Cupboards to my grandfathers. They both infused my (fantasy-drifting) imagination with a taste for real-world adventure. 100 Cupboards is what happens when those things are thoroughly blended together (along with milk and sugar).
I live in Idaho, and I love the west, the rolling hills and vast, empty places. I grew up here, playing in those fields, floating in creeks, climbing in old barn lofts, and sledding (contrary to wisdom and the instruction of my elders) across frozen ponds. After graduate school in Maryland, I moved back. I currently live one block from the hospital where I was born, the hospital where all my kids have been born (one even in the same room).
I should tell you about my wife. I first heard her name spoken (Heather Garaway) while visiting home during grad school. My brother-in-law had briefly met her (and a number of other people) while visiting Santa Cruz, California. When he said her name it had a rather strange effect on me. It didn’t make me starry-eyed or mushy-stomached. It made me nervous, like I needed to look over my shoulder because I was about to be hit by a bus. My life was going to change.
I like to think of myself as rational. But while a friend drove me back to the airport, I took him as a witness to my strange sensation. That was at the beginning of October. Back in Maryland, I had an e-mail waiting for me from her. A friend of hers was attending the same school I was and he needed a place to live. On Halloween, I met her (she was traveling to Ireland and had a layover in Maryland). Just after Thanksgiving, I asked her to marry me. She was a globe-trotting surfer (and had just surfed her first pro contest when we met). And she said yes because she loved stories (and apparently me), and she knew what all her favorite characters in books would have done. She moved inland for me, but the saltwater is still in her veins. We have four beautiful children and she will teach them all to surf.
Her hair smells like rain, and it clings to my face like Velcro when I kiss her.
I love stories. I love finding them. I love telling them. I’m doing my best to live them. I couldn’t be more grateful for the life I’ve been given.

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