Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles Series #1)

( 14 )

Overview

Lose yourself in NIGHTSHADE CITY, a fantasy adventure by a talented new novelist featuring a memorable cast of rats—both heroic and villainous—in an exciting tale of intrigue and adventure.

Deep beneath Trillium City, a modern metropolis, lies the Catacombs, a kingdom of rats of extraordinary intelligence and ability. The once peaceful and democratic colony has become a harsh dictatorship ruled by the High Minister Kildeer and his henchman, Billycan, who runs the Kill Army and ...

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Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles Series #1)

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Overview

Lose yourself in NIGHTSHADE CITY, a fantasy adventure by a talented new novelist featuring a memorable cast of rats—both heroic and villainous—in an exciting tale of intrigue and adventure.

Deep beneath Trillium City, a modern metropolis, lies the Catacombs, a kingdom of rats of extraordinary intelligence and ability. The once peaceful and democratic colony has become a harsh dictatorship ruled by the High Minister Kildeer and his henchman, Billycan, who runs the Kill Army and collects weekly Stipend from the terrified subjects. The two of them rule with iron fists. With most of the adult rats wiped out in Killdeer's Bloody Coup and the subsequent great flood, orphaned young male rats are forced into the army and the females into servitude—or worse. But change is coming. . . .

Two orphan brothers, Vincent and Victor Nightshade, sons of a hero killed in the Bloody Coup, manage to escape from the Kill Army and meet up with Juniper Belancourt, leader of a rebel group seeking to overthrow their oppressors and restore peace and democracy in a new city. The brothers are quickly caught up in Juniper's cause: "We survive by cover of night. We live in the shadows, waiting for our redemption! Our name must symbolize our burning spirit. . . . Tonight and forever, we are Nightshade City!"

Juniper's plans are complicated by many factors. His lovely young niece Clover has been picked by Killdeer to be his next Chosen One, so the rebels and their allies—the Earthworms—must work fast to save her. Can the rebels locate their enemies' War Room? Can Juniper's former love, now holding a position in Killdeer's Ministry, be trusted? Will the rebels be able to execute their plans without the aid of a young Topsider (human)? And how will Vincent and Victor fare in battle—will they honor their father's legacy of courage?

NIGHTSHADE CITY is rich with memorable characters: Vincent, who comes of age in this time of change; his worshipful younger brother, Victor; beautiful, intelligent Clover; Mother Gallo, a canny survivor who discovers her lost love only to risk losing him again; the charismatic Juniper, a kind and courageous leader whose vision carries the rebels into great danger; Killdeer, a decadent narcissist with surprising depth; and Billycan, a truly demented former lab rat, brilliant, vicious, and Juniper's sworn enemy.

This enthralling animal fantasy, in the classic tradition of Redwall and Watership Down, encompasses timeless themes of honor and loyalty, family ties and lost love, alliances and betrayals. Readers will respond enthusiastically to this surefire page-turner, set in a brilliantly imagined world filled with easy-to-root-for heroes and villains they'll love to hate.

FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY, get the e-book edition of NIGHTSHADE CITY—free on this website!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wagner's debut novel is a labyrinthine saga about warring factions of rats living beneath a human city. Residents of the grim Catacombs are ruled by High Minister Killdeer, a lecherous drunkard who took control after staging a bloody coup and assassinating the beloved Trilok. Now, 11 years later, Loyalists led by a rat named Juniper are plotting to overthrow Killdeer and Billycan (his sadistic second-in-command), liberate the oppressed rats, and bring them to live in the newly constructed, idyllic Nightshade City. Aided by earthworms adept at burrowing tunnels, the Loyalists invade the Catacombs and pull off their mission in a mostly peaceful showdown. Though an abundance of details and ruminations can bog down the action, Wagner has a talent for characterization, and she fills her sprawling cast with compelling villains and heroes. The outcome feels inevitable, yet readers encounter ample bravado, humor, and pathos along the way. Billycan's mysterious disappearance, Juniper's adoption of a foundling infant rat, and a finale that intriguingly recreates the prologue leave open the door for further adventures in Nightshade. It's a door many fantasy fans will enter eagerly. Ages 9–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
Likable and courageous rats seem an oxymoron except when describing the heroes and heroine of this anthropomorphic adventure. The Catacombs, known as the Combs, are ruled by the tyrannical Killdeer, his High Minister Billycan, and the Kill Army. In his arrogance, Killdeer has become a drunken, gluttonous king who relies on Billycan to collect the Stipend from the rats who reside in the Combs. However, rats are mysteriously disappearing. The Kill Army Majors assume they are merely attempting an escape and have been killed by Topsides (humans). However, Juniper, hero of the former government, is secretly building an underground city and raising a rebel army. His efforts are boosted when Victor and Vincent Nightshade, sons of the previous well-loved ruler, escape the Combs and join the new city. Tensions mount when Juniper's niece Clover is to be The Chosen One and become Killdeer's wife. The evil Billycan is determined to wipe out the rebels but is surprised at the courage shown by the followers of Julian and the Nightshades. A mysterious surprise at the end hints at additional adventures for the rats of Nightshade City. Simple drawings enhance the character traits of both heroes and villains. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Vincent and Victor Nightshade live in the underground rat city known as the Catacombs, home to unusually long-lived and intelligent rats. Their father, Julius Nightshade, was once a leader of the city, but now the evil High Minister Killdeer and his vicious helper, Billycan, have taken control and terrorize its inhabitants, demanding food as tribute and forcing orphans to serve in their army or kitchens. When Vincent and Victor try to escape Killdeer's clutches, they meet Juniper Belancort, a friend of their father, who now leads the resistance against Killdeer. Along with Juniper's niece, Clover, they are drawn into the struggle to free the rats from Killdeer's reign and bring them to a new home, Nightshade City. The three help develop a plan for the rebel rats and their ally earthworms to tunnel into Killdeer's palace and confront him directly, leading to a variety of underground battles. Wagner has created an atmospheric and action-filled tale, and her balance of strong male and female protagonists is appealing. Fans of Erin Hunter's "Warriors" books (HarperCollins) may enjoy the animal action and touch of romance, and the authentic rat and earthworm abilities add to the strength of the story.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
Kirkus Reviews

Fans of Suzanne Collins's Underland Chronicles and Brian Jacques's Redwall series will enjoy this fast-paced adventure set deep in the Catacombs, where a community of intelligent rats lives in peace and harmony. Or at least they did, until two vicious rats, Killdeer and Billycan, led a coup that turned the democratic society into a dictatorship and its citizens into mistreated and oppressed subjects. Underneath all this misery, however, there is hope. A gang of rebels is creating a new city and welcoming refugee rats into its safety. The fate of the new city rests heavily on three orphans, brothers Victor and Vincent and Clover, a young female who has been secretly educated despite Killdeer's strict rule against educating girls. Can they help the rebels overthrow the tyrants, and can they do it before poor Clover is married off to Killdeer? The themes of love, loss and loyalty resonate through the novel, and the moments of darkness and violence are ultimately overpowered by hope and redemption. A good story well-told.(Animal fantasy. 10-14)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823422852
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2010
  • Series: Nightshade Chronicles Series , #1
  • Pages: 262
  • Sales rank: 807,856
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2012

    Beautiful!

    I loved this story. It has similarities to Watership Down, but at a much faster pace and more dialogue vs. description. If you like the Silverwing series by Kenneth Oppel, you were like this too!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A simply magical story!

    I LOVED The Rats of NIMH, when I was a kid. When I picked up Nightshade City, I was half really excited about reading a new novel about a secret civilization of intelligent rats and half really really worried that it could never live up to my memory of Mrs. Frisby and her children. Well, I was right on both counts. The secret civilization of intelligent rats is there and, in the same spirit of O'Brien's classic, they are very human little rodents and the descriptions and characterizations of them are simply magic. For example:

    "Lamenting his large dinner, Lithgo leaned against the wall for support as sweat trickled down his thick russet brow and steam wafted from his now-filthy coat. The two young lieutenants stood without a sound, waiting for the major's orders. All that could be heard in the dusky corridor was Lithgo's weighty breathing." p.4

    Can't you see that scene? You know what kind of major Lithgo is, the overweight, past his prime, spent kind. He's also really evil, but that's not the point of this paragraph. Wagner manages to describe the rats, especially when we first meet them, in a way that reminds you that they're rats but also reminds you that they're "people."

    But this is not a novel about a sweet widow and her helpless children or even a society of rats who are fleeing humans. This is a novel about a just civilization of rats that was overthrown in a now legendary Bloody Coup. The bad guys are other rats, and they include a very large albino rat, escaped from some kind of testing facility, who delights in torturing and scaring those over whom he rules. This monster, Billycan, leads an army of orphaned male rats, teaching them to be killing machines and to police their former friends and neighbors before they even reach adulthood.

    There are parts of this book that are definitely not for the faint of heart. Teenagers worry that their younger siblings are being tortured on their behalf; powerful leaders try to seduce young and beautiful girls; people (rats) die. Through all of that, Nightshade City and its early inhabitants never lose their resolve that things will turn out alright. Because of them, their normalcy and their senses of humor, the story never gets too scary or harsh. It's just important. What Vincent, Victor and the rest of the rats of Nightshade City are doing is of utmost importance and people will suffer greatly if they don't accomplish what they've set out to do. In this way, and in the way that violence and evil and other scary stuff is used, I think it is along the lines of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. What the characters are doing feels epic and like it will change everything. Maybe it will.

    This definitely one of my favorite books read this year, which is something I almost never say. I just LOVED this!


    Book source: Review copy provided by the publisher

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Well done!

    This was great! Right away I felt I was underground with the rats. The characters are compelling and the story is not only exciting, but teaches valuable lessons.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Great Kid's Book!

    Bought this for my 9 year old granddaughter. She raved about it and told me to read it. I loved it too. Just ordered her the second book in the series for Christmas, hoping to borrow when she's done!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    Great new series

    I read this last month and recently found out on the book's website that this is a series. I thought the character development was strong and the plot was well thought out and kept the action moving. This is truly a book about overcoming odds and making life better. That's what I loved most about it. The writing has a very classic feel, harking back to Wind in the Willows and Watership Down, yet updated to what our kids would read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Fun Animal Adventure!

    I'd been waiting incredibly impatiently for this book to come out--the Author is one of my favorite bloggers, and um, IT HAS A RICK RIORDAN blurb, need I say more? So I was SO excited when my friend loaned me her ARC, and I'm happy to say the story did not disappoint. Here's what I love about this book: the main characters are rats and worms--two of the most under appreciated creatures on the planet--and yet the author makes you feel for them. Care about them. She's kinda made me feel sad for every dead worm I've ever seen on the sidewalk, or every rat my cats have caught--and believe me, I did NOT feel that way before. Not to mention she gave them just the right mix of animal and human qualities, so you could never *quite* forget that you were reading about rats and worms, while still being completely able to relate to them. NOT an easy thing to pull off, I'm sure. If you love animal adventures, middle grade, or just escaping to a new, imaginative world you'll love this book. Highly recommended!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2010

    Rats are cool!

    This contains the right mix of creepy, adventure, plot and family. It reminds me of some of the true classics I grew up with.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2014

    Another Great "Tail"

    I loved this book, and it reminded me of The Undreland series (with Gregor). Both have intellegent animals waging war on each other. FANTASTIC SERIES'!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2014

    Interesting

    This is a great book for kids.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I LOVE stories told through animal points of view. In my opinion

    I LOVE stories told through animal points of view. In my opinion, there aren't enough of them. The Warriors series by Erin Hunter is my favorite of all time - it does such a fantastic job of connecting you to the characters and tying in a fantastic plot along with it. This is followed by the Sight series by David Clement-Davies, which has some of my favorite plot points ever.

    Needless to say, I have a very high standard for books set in an animals point of view.

    Nightshade City is interesting - obviously you're not going to like it if rats skeeve you out, but I've always been a big fan of all animals. I didn't connect to these rats as well as I hoped, despite the fact that they were portrayed as little tiny people. They all had short scenes as they jumped back and forth between characters.

    However, I did LOVE the setting. That's a big deal when it comes to animal set books, and I thought Hilary did a great job at creating that. Watching Nightshade City develop was fantastic as well, though I wish we had seen more of that. (The sequel, perhaps?)

    The only note I have is that the pacing seemed a little weird. I can't explain how, but... it was weird.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great debut!

    I'm a teacher and I received the early copy of this at a recent trade show. Great story and characters. If you or your kids enjoy animal stories than this is an excellent choice!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 9, 2010

    For readers who love Redwall, Warriors & Watership Down

    This was an absorbing story and I was immediately sucked into this underground world of rats. The writing is Dickensian in feel, something very classic about it, takes you back to another time even though it's modern day, sort of like the Harry Potter series. The plot grabbed me and the fact that the author can even give intriguing personalities to a tribe of earthworms is unique in and of itself! It has both strong male and female characters and the author did a great job with the interaction between the rats and a human boy named Ramsey.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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