Release date: 2005
Genre: Fantasy / Christmas Theme
Target Audience: 9+
Nickolai is the last true elf left in the world, rescued from the fate of his people by Comet, a flying reindeer.
Brought up by human parents in the distant north, Nickolai knows that there's something different about him. Teased and bullied because of his pointed ears, he seeks solace with the reindeer in the enchanted forest.
But when Magda starts to steal children's youth in order to regain her own beauty, Nick must travel north to foil her evil plans ...
Nickolai of the North is a sweet story full of festive feeling and magic. It is the story of how Nickolai, the last elf, becomes Santa. We follow him through his childhood as he struggles with being labelled as different by the other village children. We experience his curiosity as he ventures into the forest against his parents wishes. We love Elvina his Light Fairy even though she does not speak a single word throughout the book.
The author created a most interesting tale of Nickolai's hertiage. The idea of using the northern lights as the source of magic was intriguing and beautifully descriptive. The Light Fairy concept was my favourite part of the book and was perhaps the only original part of the tale. It must be very difficult to retell the story of how Santa came to be and give it an original twist.
I felt that the plot of the story was highly predictable but I also think this I what I wanted from the book. If you choose to read a Christmas themed book, I guess you are looking for the festive feeling and the generous spirit which is at the heart of Nickolai of the North.
The writing was elegant and easy to appreciate. The characters were all well rounded but again perhaps rather predictable. I read this novel in one sitting which shows that it can hold your attention. However, it certainly wasn't a page turner but I guess that's because I knew how the story was going to end. At over 300 pages long, I think the target audience may lose patience with the slow pace of the story. It certainly could have been shorter.
Overall, Nickolai of the North is a perfect read for conjuring up that special festive feeling. It is full of magic, wonder and friendship. A sweet read that will leave you singing Jingle Bells or Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. However, it will certainly not make it into the category of great fantasy reads for tweens.