Nicholas St. North : and the Battle of the Nightmare King, Hardback

Nicholas St. North : and the Battle of the Nightmare King Hardback

Illustrated by William Joyce

Part of the The Guardians series

4.5 out of 5 (13 ratings)


Forget the huge belly and the jolly old elf stuff because before Santa grew out the beard and shimmied his way down your chimney, he was a swashbuckling young man with a bit of a wild streak-and a talent for wizardry.

When St. North's latest invention, The Robot Genie, falls under the spell of The Nightmare King, Santa pays a terrible price.

He is shrunken, frozen in place and trapped in a metallic shell and turned into a toy which means he is powerless to stop The Robot Genie from enacting The Nightmare King's evil plot to terrorize children. But, toys are magical things, aren't they? Without being able to speak or interact, they can form powerful and lasting bonds with young children, children who care for them and love them with all of their hearts-and when St.

North the toy falls into the hands of a little girl who needs a toy more than most, they unlock the spell and set off a chain of events that send St.

North on a sleigh ride through a starry, starry night...and lays the foundation for the next Guardian books.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 240 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Adventure
  • ISBN: 9781442430488



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Showing 1 - 5 of 13 reviews.

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Review by

Reason for Reading: Next in the series.Not since "The Spiderwick Chronicles" have I read a children's fantasy aimed at the 7-11 crowd that is so engaging, quality literature with awesome illustrations to bring the story to life. This book is not genre specific as it mixes fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, and fairytale retelling all together until one can't really categorize it. It takes place on our Earth and yet includes creatures from Atlantis and the Moon. As I was reading I often had a feeling of L. Frank Baum's writing style; the book looks and has a voice similar to a 19th/early 20th century children's fantasy, chapters have titles such as " In Which a Twist of Fate Begets a Knot in the Plan" and "Where the Impossible Occurs with Surprising Regularity".The text is large and double-spaced with frequent illustrations so is much shorter than the page numbers would indicate and this does make character development suffer. One never really gets a full sense or deep caring for the characters but I did find the little girl Katharine to be the most fleshed out character and the one I cared for the most. The book ends with the story arc being concluded and yet the overarching story of the series has only just begun, thus it very much has a first in a series feel.However, to clear a little confusion. This is not the first book in the series, even though it is called Book 1. This is a direct sequel to "The Man in the Moon" which is confusingly listed as "The Guardians of Childhood, Book 1". The Man in the Moon is a picture book but characters and events from the book are present and crucial to the story in "Nicholas St. North", so do read it first. Those over 11 may find the book lacking in depth, plot development and characterization as this is not a heavy or detailed read. What it is though, is a fun, whimsical, outlandish fantasy crossed with other genres written to especially appeal to the 7-11 age group and those adults willing to be a kid again. I'm impressed and eager for the next book which will feature the Easter Bunny (excuse me, E. Aster Bunnymund).

Review by

The Guardians of Childhood, soon to be a “major motion picture” has been a book series that has intrigued me every time I walked past it in the Children’s section of the bookstore. It wasn’t until my family was looking for more books to read (to better encourage a lifetime love of reading in our newest member) that we finally picked them up.My initial thought was: this is an origin story of Santa Claus. I was skeptical, I admit, thinking of the countless Rankin & Bass Santa origin stories. Yet, at the same time, I was intrigued. This Santa held a sword, and had an army of Yetis behind him. This Santa was not one you’d like to tangle with.And a reading of the book made this clear. While the more Santa-esque character was not St. North in this volume, you see the trappings of the “jolly old elf” begin to manifest themselves in a Russian swordsman thief who apprentices himself under a great wizard, eventually developing a hankering for mechanical devices imbued with a dash of sorcery. This man, while not your typical impression of Santa Claus, has the foundation to be an imaginative toymaker.All this happens while the evil Pitch, the Nightmare King, reawakens (from events that transpired in Joyce’s picture book The Man in the Moon). St. North and his ilk find themselves battling this former man who delights in giving children nightmares, and for destroying all that is good and noble that generally stands in his way.If you did read the precursor picture book, you’d appreciate the piecing together of the two puzzles to get a more complete picture answering some questions that arose from reading The Man in the Moon, as well as some questions that arose from reading Nicholas St. North. Delightfully, to get you to keep reading, even more pieces of puzzles are scattered throughout, including the destiny of a young orphan named Katherine, who has an affinity for recording St. North’s outlandish stories.As I’ve said before, while what Joyce is doing, on the surface, is not original, at its core, it is one of the more original things I’ve read from the Children’s aisle. I recommend this if you’re looking for something for that independent reader (or to read to that not-so-independent reader), or even for yourself. Who says that we adults can’t enjoy a book written for children every now and again?

Review by

The first installment of William Joyce's <i>Guardians of Childhood</i> series is absolutely delightful. Joyce, long a master of the picture book form, has finally turned his talent to early reader novels, with excellent result. The basic idea - a series of stories revolving around the mythological figures of childhood, and their battle against nightmares, is simple, clever and will resonate with many, many children. In reading this first book (I bought the first four), I was struck how much it reminded me of L. Frank Baum's Oz stories, which were great favorites of my own childhood. The language of <i>Nicholas St. North</i> is a little simpler - befitting the modern age - and the story is a little shorter, but there are some commonalities: a brave female child protagonist; benevolent magic-casters; strange fantasy creatures; and a quest that emphasizes friendship over the occasional bursts of terror and even violence. Crucially, Joyce and his co-author (on this volume only) have chosen to avoid either a full-on fairy tale motif or a sub-Tolkien high fantasy homage, both of which are overly popular today. I would not be at all surprised if the Oz books, which were always lighter and more distinctly American than many trendy series since, were in the back of Joyce's mind.My only criticisms relate, perhaps over-sensitively, to marketing issues. I'm not an <i>enormous</i> fan of the serialized format that seems to have taken over children's fiction, which instead of gently implying future adventures, screams, "Buy the next one!" I respect that Joyce wants to tell a longer story, but I do like a more distinct ending to each installment. I'm also a little disappointed just by the economic situation in which these books are published. They are lovely little volumes - the covers are beautiful, and Joyce's gentle interior pencil drawings balance the text nicely - but I can't help thinking that, had these been released in the glory publishing days of the '80s or '90s, they would have color plates (or a color frontispiece, at least). The covers are so vivid it just seems a shame there is none of Joyce's trademark color work elsewhere in the books. That's a secondary issue, though - what's here is very nice indeed.I am looking forward to the next book in the series, which has a delightfully B-movie title. I believe William Joyce has projected six novels in the series, so there's only two to be released yet. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out.

Review by

I loved this book for many reasons. Upon reading this book, it was almost impossible to put down, causing desire to read until finished. The big idea of St. North’s back-story is that any person, no matter who they are or where they are from, can achieve great things; and also that the wonder of children should always be protected. North becomes the literal manifestation of the latter later in the series. The most brilliant part of the novel is the plot. Each chapter is well paced where there are no parts where the story feels to drag; yet it is not intense enough to leave a reader confused or lost. For example, the first chapter sets the tone for the main village where the remainder of the book will center. The second chapter then goes into detail about the main character and how he ends up in this village. The remaining chapters continue to describe, in chronological order, the events that developed North as a person and Guardian. There is no skipping about or long-winded multiple chapters on one event.This leads to the development of the characters. The three main characters, North, Ombric, and Katherine all go through substantial growth through the storyline that completes their character and in some cases completely reverses their values. For example, North starts his story as a greedy outlaw pirate, who only enters the magical village in attempt to pillage the town and be able to brag about it to the outsiders. In the end of the book, North is the complete opposite; very giving, humble and selfless, as he gives his life to protect Katherine and the wonder she represents.

Review by

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King gets off to a slow start but once the action got started I was hooked. This is a prequel if you will of the legendary St. Nicholas, detailing his life before he was St. Nick. I thought the story was fun and imaginative with plenty of action. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. 4 stars!

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