100 Cupboards, Book 1

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
100 Cupboards, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Brilliant idea. Flawed execution. Exciting anyway.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The children impulsively do things they know are dangerous, and don't tell adults when in life-threatening situations.


A hand is cut off, children hear (but don't see) a crowd of people being killed, a boy bashes a witch's head with a baseball bat

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's a smattering of violence, not graphic, and the tone throughout is tense and suspenseful.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byBlueJade July 16, 2009

Well written, American fantasy

As an adult, I loved this book. Wilson has a great writing style and good use of language. I am enjoying reading YA fantasy books and this is definitely one o... Continue reading
Parent of a 7 and 9-year-old Written bypeony April 9, 2009

fresh and interesting, but a bit too creepy for younger readers

This fantasy had a fresh take (other than the villainess, who stuck me as having wandered in direct from Narnia -- unless the author is intending this to be a r... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bypossiblyanolive July 18, 2021

Please read full review

I have a (15M) friend who loves N.D. Wilson and he recommended the 100 Cupboards series to me. I will admit, the first book isn’t great; it’s slow paced and not... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byLady Arwen May 18, 2020

enjoyable and thrilling

A splendid idea for a fantasy series. It reminded me of something between Narnia and the Wingfeather Saga. It is a wonderful read aloud for the whole family tho... Continue reading

What's the story?

Staying with relatives in Kansas since his parents have been kidnapped in Colombia, Henry discovers 99 cupboard doors hidden behind the wall of his attic bedroom. Soon he and his cousin Henrietta realize that they are portals into other worlds. Behind one of the doors is an evil and powerful witch who has been imprisoned there for a very long time, and is eager to escape. And Henry also begins to learn of his own strange past, and that of his uncle and grandfather.

Is it any good?

There's no doubt this is a brilliant idea. Doors that lead to other worlds offer unlimited potential for adventure and magic taking place over a multi-volume series, as this is intended to be. Think of the Wood Between the Worlds in The Magician's Nephew (which also starts in an attic), and you'll get the idea. Unfortunately, at least in this first volume of the series, that idea doesn't pan out too well. Will kids like it? Absolutely. But it could have been so much better.

The first problem is that the reader gets to spend hardly any time in those other worlds. What little interaction the characters do have with other worlds, of course, say it all together -- AWAKENS AN ANCIENT EVIL. Really? Another one? More problematic is that there is nary a likable character to be found anywhere in this story, aside from one very minor character who only really enters the story near the end. It's hard to care about people who are so annoying, and who drive the plot primarily through willfully dimwitted impulsiveness. There's some exciting action, quite a bit of suspense, and a whole attic-full of potential here. In the next volume, the author would do well to make the characters more relatable, and to get them into those other worlds for awhile.

From the Book:
He sat up. A piece of plaster rolled down his forehead, bounced on the tip of his nose, and landed on his chest. He ran one hand through his hair, and more bits of his wall dropped onto his lap. He looked up.

Above him, two small knobs protruded from the plaster of his wall. One of the knobs was turning, very slightly. A small, scraping noise grew until a final thump rained fine plaster dust down on Henry and his bed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the idea of other worlds and universes. They appear in many books and movies. Do you think they could be real? Could there be gateways to other universes here on earth? Would you like to find one? What would you do if you had the 100 cupboards? Would you have listened to the warnings?

Book details

  • Author: N. D. Wilson
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publication date: December 1, 2007
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
  • Number of pages: 289
  • Available on: Audiobook (unabridged)
  • Last updated: July 18, 2021

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