Cuphead in A Mountain of Trouble

A Cuphead Novel


By Ron Bates

Illustrated by Studio MDHR

Formats and Prices




$12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 8, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Gather ’round the campfire for s’more Cuphead adventures! An original novel based on the award-winning and visually stunning Cuphead video game, featuring twenty original illustrations and an interactive treasure hunt.

School’s out, which can only mean one thing: camp! Cuphead has been looking forward to going to Camp Hootenholler for ages. He can’t wait to shoot some archery, swim in the lake, and sit around and do nuthin’ at all. When he and his best buds, Mugman and Ms. Chalice, arrive, they learn about the camp’s bitter rivalry with their neighbors, Camp Punchafink, and discover that a menacing mountain, Glumstone the Giant, is watching over both camps, ready to bring down a fierce punishment upon whichever camp gets on its bad side!

Before long, the two camps go head-to-head in an all-out prank war. But one night, after a midnight raid on the Punchafinks, Cuphead and his friends wake the grumpy and powerful Glumstone. Yikes! Glumstone the Giant, amused, tells them that he’s never heard of any “curse,” but that it gives him an idea. Glumstone is tired of being disturbed by the camps’ high jinks, so he decides that whichever camp loses the annual Camp-etition will have to shut down.

Can the Hootenhollers rally together to take down the Punchafinks, or will the campers be sent packing?

Includes over twenty never-before-seen illustrations that feature hidden items for an interactive treasure hunt! Cuphead in a Mountain of Trouble is the second book in an original series and perfect for players of Cuphead and readers of Hello Neighbor, Bendy and the Ink Machine, and Five Nights at Freddy’s.

© 2020 StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cuphead(TM), the Cuphead(TM) logo, StudioMDHR(TM) and the StudioMDHR(TM) logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc. throughout the world.


When Cuphead opened his eyes, he saw a bear. How the bear got inside the cabin is anyone’s guess, but that’s not important right now. What matters is there it was, big as life, hovering bearishly above the hammock where, until a moment earlier, Cuphead had been blissfully asleep. It was a large bear, as bears in cabins tend to be, and do you know what Cuphead did? Well, he did what anyone would have done if they suddenly woke up and found themselves staring at a set of teeth the size of piano keys.

He yawned.

This wasn’t unusual, of course; lots of people yawn when they wake up in the morning. It’s a very pleasant way to start the day. As for the bear, he smiled, straightened his bow tie (oh, by the way, the bear was wearing a bow tie), and picked up a plump, juicy pineapple. After shaking the fruit beside his right ear, then by his left, he popped off the top and neatly inserted a straw and tiny umbrella.

He handed the refreshment to Cuphead, who took a long, nourishing sip.

“Shall I get the door for you, sir?” asked the bear.

“Don’t bother, I’ll take the shortcut,” said Cuphead, and he leaped out the window.

The only problem was that this particular window was on the third floor (it was a very large cabin), and he appeared to be in for a terrible fall. But as luck would have it, just below him, a distinguished-looking badger was pushing a newly purchased four-poster bed home to his burrow. So after an exhilarating plunge, Cuphead helped himself to the softest landing he’d known in a long while, trampolined off the mattress, and bounded onto his feet.

And since it was such a nice day out, he went for a walk, and everywhere he walked he saw something fun. There were horses tossing horseshoes, and horseshoes tossing horses, and ants having a picnic, and gum trees blowing bubbles of every size and flavor. He saw fiddler crabs fiddling, bread slices loafing, faucets running, boxes boxing, sneakers sneaking, bumblebees bumbling, and an army of bullfrogs playing a game they called croak-ay (which is exactly like croquet, but noisier).

Just ahead, Cuphead’s brother, Mugman, was giving flying lessons to a group of chickens. One by one, he’d load them into a gigantic slingshot and launch them into the stratosphere, where they’d drop their eggs like bombardiers over a target site. Meanwhile, Ms. Chalice, who was an excellent archer, would shoot an arrow into the air, crack the shells in mid-plunge, and catch the yolks in a skillet for breakfast. As Cuphead strolled by, she slid them onto his plate, and he happily ate his morning meal while continuing down the path.

At last, he arrived at an elm tree that had a large button on the side. It said UP. Cuphead, who could never resist a good button, pressed it, and in no time at all two doors opened like an elevator. He stepped inside. A moment later, he emerged at the top of the tree; walked out onto one of the long, springy branches; and bounced. He bounced not once, not twice, but three times, then did a perfect swan dive into the lake (oh, by the way, there was a lake) and disappeared under the cool, clear water. When he surfaced, he was on a pair of water skis, being pulled by two very helpful beavers in a motorboat. After a quick trip around the pond, he skied effortlessly onto the shore, put on a pair of sunglasses, and collapsed into a cabana chair underneath a big, flashy neon sign that said:




As Cuphead lay there, sipping pineapple juice and relaxing in the breeze, the most beautiful songbird he had ever seen opened her lovely mouth and—

“Cuphead! CUPHEAD!”

Oh dear, that didn’t sound like a songbird at all. It sounded like the voice of his teacher, Professor Lucien, because that’s exactly what it was. Suddenly, Camp Hootenholler and all its wonderful delights vanished, and Cuphead found himself sitting at his very ordinary desk surrounded by his equally ordinary classmates.

Professor Lucien stood at the blackboard. He looked irritated.

“Cuphead,” he said sternly, “if you’re not too busy daydreaming, perhaps you could come up here and show us the answer to our math problem.”

Math problem? On the last day of school? Surely he was joking. Cuphead couldn’t possibly do math now. He’d already cleared his mind of anything remotely educational. Why, he’d spent all last evening emptying his brain of history, arithmetic, and the location of his gym locker. It wasn’t something he wanted to do, you understand, but he had to make room for more important things—camp nicknames, for example. After all, you couldn’t show up at a top-notch place like Camp Hootenholler without some catchy nicknames to throw around. So far he’d come up with Stilts, Curly, Pencilneck, Wisenheimer, Half-Pint, Moonbeam, Bookworm, and The Sarsaparilla Kid. He could hardly wait to find campers to pin them on. So obviously, at this particular moment, answering any question that wasn’t in some way nickname-related would be a complete waste of time.

He was surprised Professor Lucien, one of the smartest people on the Inkwell Isles, hadn’t realized that himself. Then again, nobody’s perfect.

“Did you hear me, Cuphead?” the professor asked.

“Um, sure, I heard ya,” said Cuphead. “I was just, uh, tying my shoelaces.”

Professor Lucien rubbed the temples of his bulb.

“You don’t have shoelaces, Cuphead.”

This was an excellent point. Cuphead examined his feet.

“Oh,” he said at last. “That’s probably why it’s taking so long.”

And having no other choice, he climbed out of his chair and started a slow, torturous walk toward the front of the class. On the way, he tried very hard not to think about Camp Hootenholler, because that would only make doing math a thousand times harder, but—

Psssst, Cuphead,” said Ms. Chalice. “What’s the secret Hootenholler handshake?”

Cuphead sighed. Ms. Chalice was his very best friend in the world, but she had an annoying habit of getting him into trouble. Take now, for instance. She knew perfectly well the secret Hootenholler handshake was two shakes, a moose call, and a smack on the head with a rubber mallet. For cryin’ out loud, they’d practiced it a dozen times! But like everyone else in their class, she was bursting with excitement about going to camp, and wanted to make sure nothing would go wrong. Of course, Cuphead would’ve gladly helped her, but she couldn’t have picked a worse time. Professor Lucien was waiting! So when Ms. Chalice extended her hand, Cuphead ignored it, put the whole thing out of his mind, and tried to remember what a plus sign looked like.

The next thing he knew, he was standing at the blackboard.

“All right, Cuphead,” said Professor Lucien. “If A equals three, and B equals nine, and C equals twenty-seven, what does D equal?”

Well, that was strange. Cuphead could see his teacher’s lips moving, but the words coming out were complete gobbledygook. A equals three? B equals nine? What was he talking about? And why was he mixing together letters and numbers, which everyone knows are two entirely different things? Cuphead felt sorry for the poor professor. Perhaps he needed a vacation, maybe to some kind of wonderful camp where they had butler bears, and elm-levators, and bullfrogs playing—

No, no, no, no, no! Cuphead couldn’t think about that right now. He had to concentrate on the math problem! So he gritted his teeth and squinted his eyes until he’d squeezed even the name of ol’ Camp Whatchamacallit right out of his brain. And when he was ready, he picked up the chalk and wrote a large letter D on the blackboard, then glanced hopefully at the professor. Professor Lucien crossed his arms and tapped his foot. So next to the D, Cuphead drew two parallel lines, which he vaguely remembered being the way you make an equal sign. He was very pleased with how it turned out. It’s funny, though. He’d never noticed before how much the equal sign looks like a pair of water skis. The resemblance was uncanny. And speaking of water skis, he happened to know of a place where they had the most incredible waterskiing you’ll ever see, a little slice of paradise called Camp Hooten—

NO, NO, NO! It was not a pair of water skis; it was an equal sign. A plain, ordinary, dull-as-dry-cereal equal sign, and it had absolutely nothing to do with motorboats or beavers or that camp whose name he definitely couldn’t recall right now. Cuphead was done with that nonsense, and he quickly returned to the business of staring very hard at the equation on the board and hoping for a miracle. And to his great surprise, he was just about to come up with the answer when, “Psssssssst!”

He heard a noise.


Against his better judgment, Cuphead turned around. When he did, he saw that his classmates had formed themselves into a pyramid in the middle of the room, and Mugman was leading them in a cheer.

Marshmallows, wiener roasts, sis-boom-bah!

Hootenholler! Hootenholler! Rah, rah, RAH!

Cuphead groaned. This was agony.

“The equation,” Professor Lucien reminded him.

Ah, yes, the equation. He could stall no longer. After a deep breath, he raised the chalk; made a big, bold, somewhat-numeric-looking line; and—


Yes! Saved by the bell! That glorious, magnificent, ear-splitting bell! Summer had arrived and the terrible, unsolvable math problem no longer had any power over him. Quickly, he grabbed the D he had drawn on the chalkboard and turned it sideways so it looked like a little boat.

“Come on!” he yelled, and an instant later, he, Ms. Chalice, and Mugman were all sitting in the D-shaped tub.

“Just a moment,” said Professor Lucien, giving them a serious look. Then he picked up the chalk and drew a life preserver.

“Safety first,” he said.

Cuphead took it and grinned. And with that, the three friends waved goodbye to the professor, sailed across the blackboard, and floated out the schoolhouse door.

When the boys arrived back home, Cuphead went straight up to his room, and Mugman went, well… straight up.


Hearing the sudden cry, Elder Kettle (who was the boys’ guardian and knew shenanigans when he heard them) rushed to investigate. What he found was Mugman hanging upside down from the parlor ceiling with his foot caught in the grip of an elaborate trap.

“CUP-HEAD!” Elder Kettle bellowed.

Naturally, Cuphead came racing down the stairs. Elder Kettle gave him a long, disapproving glare.

“Cuphead, what is the meaning of this?”

Cuphead gulped.

It wasn’t what Elder Kettle said exactly. It was the way he said it. He had that tone, the one that sounded like a pirate making you walk the plank because you forgot to bring the scary-looking flag with the skeleton on it. It was an awful sound, and Cuphead felt sick to his stomach. He hadn’t meant to do anything wrong; he’d just been excited about going to camp and wanted to practice capturing wild beasts.

He stared at the floor.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Elder Kettle sighed and shook his head.

“Well, I should think you would be,” he grumbled. “You call that a snare?”

“What?” asked Cuphead.

“A snare, boy. A snare!” said the kettle. “This will never do. See how flimsy that rope is? Oh, it’s fine for catching your brother, but what if Mugman had been a hippopotamus, or a whale?”

“Or a vending machine,” said Mugman, who had begun to twirl around in a little circle.

“Or a vending machine,” Elder Kettle agreed. “This is the wilderness, boy! You need to be ready for anything. I remember my days at Hootenholler. Why, I caught things twice the size of Mugman! Here, let me show you how it’s done.”

And for the next hour and a quarter, Cuphead and Elder Kettle stood there making snares and catching Mugman and all the other ferocious things they happened to find in the cottage. They caught a dining room set, two wing chairs, a sewing machine, the coat rack, and that nice young fellow who was selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

When they’d finished, Elder Kettle poured himself a cup of tea and sat down at the recently liberated kitchen table.

“Camp Hootenholler!” he said proudly. “You boys are in for one terrific summer. Gosh, I wish I were going with you!”

Elder Kettle went on and on about Camp Hootenholler, pouring out fond memories of his days there. Of course, that was some time ago, but he was sure it would be just as thrilling now.

“Oh, the fun we had,” he recalled. “Me, Sawbuck, Dumpy, Scooter—the whole gang.”

Sawbuck? Dumpy? Those were camp nicknames! Cuphead suddenly became very excited.

“Did you have a camp nickname, Elder Kettle?” he asked.

Elder Kettle stroked his chin.

“Well, let me see. It has been a while, you know,” he said. “Ah, yes—Yo-Yo. They all called me Yo-Yo.”

Yo-Yo. It was an excellent nickname! Cuphead made a mental note.

“Why did they call you Yo-Yo?” asked Mugman. “Can you do amazing tricks?”

“Can I do amazing tricks?” roared Elder Kettle, and he promptly pulled a yo-yo from his pocket, flung it to the floor, and realized, no, he couldn’t do amazing tricks. “Oh well, it doesn’t matter because that’s not why they called me Yo-Yo. They called me Yo-Yo because of my yodeling. I was the best yodeler in the whole camp!”

Cuphead and Mugman were very impressed, and they would’ve been even more so if they’d had the slightest idea what a yodeler was. But they didn’t.

Elder Kettle stared at their blank, confused faces.

“Come now, surely you know what yodeling is?”

They shook their heads.

“You mean you’ve never heard a yodel? Then are you in for a treat!” he told them. “Why, it’s candy for your eardrums—it’s the music of the mountains!”

And just like that, Elder Kettle climbed on top of the kitchen table, puffed out his chest, and—


Cuphead couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It sounded like someone was badly mistreating a goose. If Elder Kettle was the best yodeler at Camp Hootenholler, he would hate to meet the second best.

The old kettle climbed off the table and looked at the boys. They were speechless. Then wordless. Then phraseless. Then soundless. Finally, when they’d completely run out of noises not to make, Mugman burst into applause and yelled, “Hooray!”

He didn’t say “hooray” because he liked Elder Kettle’s performance; he said it because he liked Elder Kettle. Mugman wouldn’t hurt Elder Kettle for anything.

As for Cuphead, he cheered, as well. It was only polite. Besides, he’d never heard anyone yodel before—maybe it was supposed to sound like that? He tried to think of something nice to say, but nothing came to mind. Then Elder Kettle turned to him with his warm eyes and cheery grin, and all of a sudden Cuphead knew.

“You’re one in a million, Yo-Yo,” he said.

And that much, at least, was true.

The kettle smiled and took a humble bow.

“Well, I guess you boys better start getting your gear together,” he said. “It’s almost time.”

He was right. The bus would be here any minute. Cuphead could hardly believe it was happening. They were going to Camp Hootenholler! He started up the stairs and was halfway to the top when he realized Mugman wasn’t following. His brother was just standing there in the parlor gazing up at Elder Kettle.

“It is a nice camp, isn’t it?” he said at last.

Elder Kettle wrinkled up his brow. Hadn’t the boy been listening? How could he even ask such a thing? But then he remembered that Mugman was very young, and this would be his first time away from home, and that wasn’t easy even for the bravest of mugs. And that’s when his grand old face softened, and he smiled and put a reassuring hand on Mugman’s shoulder.

“Nice? Why, it’s a showplace. It’s the finest camp in the whole wide world. They have the friendliest staff, the comfiest cabins, and the most delicious food you’ve ever tasted. You’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about, my boy.”

Mugman looked very relieved.

“Except, of course, for the bad things,” said Elder Kettle.

Mugman gulped. Meanwhile, his brother backed slowly down the stairs.

“Bad things?” Cuphead said.

“Did I say bad things?” asked the old kettle. “I meant terrible things. Despicable things. Pesky bugs, tumbling boulders, poisonous plants, and, of course, the Punchafinks. Oh, believe me, the last thing you want to do is run into a Punchafink.”

Cuphead ambled across the room until he stood directly in front of his guardian.

“Um,” he said, “what’s a Punchafink?”

Elder Kettle gasped.

“What’s a Punchafink? Why, it’s the most awful thing you’ll ever meet! It’s a real menace, that’s what it is. Take it from me, the Punchafinks are your worst nightmare.”

But before Elder Kettle could explain, a clanking, clunking, sputtering, puttering noise erupted outside the cottage. When Cuphead opened the front door, he saw a rickety old bus, and hanging from one of its windows was Ms. Chalice.

“Well, what are you waitin’ for?” she shouted. “Let’s get shakin’!”

In a flash, Cuphead and Mugman streaked up the stairs. When they came down again, they were carrying large packs overstuffed with fishing rods, tennis rackets, comic books, a camera, hiking boots, sunglasses, sleeping bags, a goldfish bowl, and two changes of underwear. They yelled a quick goodbye to Elder Kettle as they raced out the door.

“Goodbye, boys! Have a wonderful time,” Elder Kettle called from the doorway. “And oh, I almost forgot—beware the curse of the mountain!”

“Curse?” said Mugman, stopping in his tracks.

The bus started to pull away.

“Mugman?” Cuphead said.

But his brother did not move. The bus rolled faster.

“Mugman?” Cuphead said again.


And this time, he grabbed his sibling by the collar and dragged him quickly down the street and through the open door of the moving bus.

“Whew! Made it,” cried Cuphead, and for the first time in a long time, it seemed all their troubles were behind them.

But of course, on the Inkwell Isles, things are seldom as they seem.

Number four,” said the bus driver.

Cuphead knew it was the bus driver because he was sitting behind the wheel and he wore a little cap. Also, he was completely round and very shiny, but that didn’t matter since bus drivers come in all shapes and sizes.

“I beg your pardon?” said Cuphead.

“Number four!” the driver said again, and he pointed to a sheet of paper posted on the divider beside his seat.


Well, as anyone will tell you, yellow papers with exclamation points are nothing to sneeze at. Cuphead glanced at the bus driver.

“Do you mean you want me to read rule number four?” Cuphead asked.

The driver rolled his eyes and held up four fingers, which was no help at all.

So Cuphead shrugged and turned his attention back to the yellow page. It had a list of rules numbered one to thirty-seven and many, many punctuation marks and no pictures. And since any list of thirty-seven well-punctuated anythings without a single picture was bound to be extremely official, he thought he’d better start at the very beginning.


Tough but fair, thought Cuphead, and he looked at the next one.


“Now, by silly bus-riding songs, do you mean—” he began, but the bus driver stopped him and pointed to rule number three.


Cuphead wanted to ask the driver how he knew his question was going to be goofy but then wondered if that might be an even goofier question. After all, he didn’t want to get a reputation as a rule breaker before they even got to camp. So he ignored the interruption and moved on to rule number four.


“Did you read rule number four?” asked the bus driver, who seemed fairly grumpy already.

“Yes,” said Cuphead.

“Good,” said the driver. “THEN SIT DOWN!”

Suddenly, the bus hit a bump in the road, and the boys were propelled through the air, down the aisle, and into a specialized sitting device. When they turned around, they saw Ms. Chalice.


On Sale
Dec 8, 2020
Page Count
304 pages

Ron Bates

About the Author

Ron Bates is a novelist who writes about secret laboratories, bullies, evil robots, toilet monsters, super plumbers, cafeteria tacos, and all the other things that make being a middle-school student so interesting. A former newspaper reporter and humor columnist, he is the author of How to Make Friends and Monsters, How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots, and The Unflushables. He also writes comic books, poems, and other stuff for kids who like to laugh. He lives in Texas.

Studio MDHR is an independent video game company founded by brothers Chad & Jared Moldenhauer. Working remotely with a team from across North America, Studio MDHR launched Cuphead on Xbox One and PC to commercial and critical acclaim.

Learn more about this author