I’m a big fan of the Rise of the Guardians film, and as I was in a mood to read something sweet and magical, I decided it was high time I got around to reading the Guardians of Childhood series.
Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King is the first story in this lovely little series. In this book, we’re introduced to Ombric Shalazar, the great wizard and the creator of the village of Santoff Claussen. Santoff Claussen is a magical village full of great inventions, clever ideas, and numerous children learning magic under the tutelage of Ombric. Stories of Santoff Claussen and its magic treasures have spread far and wide, and when they reach the ears of Nicholas St. North, he knows he must go and try to steal what the village has to offer. But the life of this clever thief and swordsman is about to be changed as he encounters Pitch, the King of Nightmares.
While this book is clearly aimed more for younger readers, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The village of Santoff Claussen is magical, and I loved reading about all the wonderful people that live there and all the incredible things they’ve created. Katherine of course is a standout character, but the other children in the village are a lot of fun, and their bravery and ability to believe in one another is quite touching. Ombric himself is a wonderfully written as the teacher and caretaker of the village, and his relationship with Katherine is sweet. As for Nicholas St. North, or North as he comes to be called, he’s a wild card, but he’s intelligent and hardworking, and his love for the children is abundantly clear.
One of my favorite things about this book are the illustrations. They have an old fashioned vibe that fits perfectly with the story, and they truly bring to life the characters and the places and the creatures that readers encounter. Sometimes I think illustrations are just thrown in to appease younger readers, but these really add something to the story.
Although it’s a quick read, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King is truly a magical tale with grand world-building, wonderful characters, and a general sense of magic and wonder that is perfect for the holiday season. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!