Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

Laura Geringer, William Joyce
Illustrator:  William Joyce 
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2011   ISBN: 978-1442430488

Long ago there was a battle between good and evil, between the Tsar and Tsarina Lunanoff and Pitch the Nightmare King. During the battle, the Tsar and Tsarina Lunanoff sacrificed themselves so that they could save their baby son and Pitch was imprisoned in a cave far under ground on Earth.

Now Pitch is free once more and he is determined to cast a pall of despair across the Earth. With his minions, the Fearlings, to assist him, he travels far and wide giving people nightmares as they sleep.

Not far from the cave where Pitch was imprisoned, there is a village called Santoff Claussen that was created by a wizard called Ombric Salazar. Using magic, he has created a safe haven in Siberia that is guarded by a ghostly spirit, trees, vines, and a great bear. In Santoff Claussen, inventors, scientists, artists and other creative people have a “perfect haven for learning” where they are safe. A great tree, Big Root, stands in the center of the village, and within this magical tree Ombric has his home.

Unfortunately Pitch is soon drawn to Santoff Claussen, and though Ombric is powerful, and though he brings the villagers into Big Root for safety, he cannot defend the village alone. Help arrives in the form of Nicholas St. North, a “young bandit thief” who definitely is not a hero type. Or at least he doesn’t seem to be.

North is magically drawn to Santoff Claussen, and when he arrives at Ombric’s village, the great bear is in the process of attacking Big Root. The huge beast is possessed by Pitch and it is tearing the tree apart. Seeing that children’s lives are being threatened, North attacks and defeats the bear, almost dying in the process.

After the battle is over, North is taken inside Big Root and nursed back to health by Ombric and his villagers. Bit by bit Ombric shares his knowledge with the young man, until North is so proficient in magic that he is able to create an incredible masterpiece. North is so pleased with his creation that he lets down his guard. Pitch is still out there though, biding his time, and waiting for just the right moment to strike.

This is one of the titles in what promises to be a magical series that tells the stories of the Guardians of Childhood. In these novels and picture books, young readers will find the delightful stories behind the Man in the Moon, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and other characters who make children’s lives richer and happier.

In this first novel in the series, a rich text and William Joyce’s beautiful illustrations combine to give readers a singular reading experience.