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Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles Series #1)

Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles Series #1)

4.8 16
by Hilary Wagner

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Deep beneath a modern metropolis lies the Catacombs, a kingdom of remarkable rats of superior intellect. Juniper and his maverick band of rebel rats have been plotting ever since the Bloody Coup turned the Catacombs, a once-peaceful democracy, into a brutal dictatorship ruled by decadent High Minister Killdeer and his vicious henchman, Billycan, a former lab rat with


Deep beneath a modern metropolis lies the Catacombs, a kingdom of remarkable rats of superior intellect. Juniper and his maverick band of rebel rats have been plotting ever since the Bloody Coup turned the Catacombs, a once-peaceful democracy, into a brutal dictatorship ruled by decadent High Minister Killdeer and his vicious henchman, Billycan, a former lab rat with a fondness for butchery. When three young orphan rats -- brothers Vincent and Victor and a clever female named Clover -- flee the Catacombs in mortal peril and join forces with the rebels, it proves to be the spark that ignites the long-awaited battle to overthrow their oppressors and create a new city: Nightshade City. E-BOOK EDITION NOW ALSO INCLUDES THE FIRST CHAPTER OF The White Assassin, Book II of the Nightshade Chronicles.

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)

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Nightshade Chronicles Series , #1
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
800L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

What People are Saying About This

Rick Riordan
“Fans of Redwall and the Warriors series will love this heroic tale of good versus evil in a subterranean society of rats. . . . Expect great adventures in Nightshade City.”--(Rick Riordan, author of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series)

Meet the Author

Hilary Wagner lives in the Chicago suburbs. Her first book, Nightshade City, was called "a good story well-told" by Kirkus Reviews, which also said, "Fans of Suzanne Collins's Underland Chronicles and Brian Jacques's Redwall series will enjoy this fast-paced adventure." Visit her website at www.nightshadecity.com.

Customer Reviews

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Nightshade City 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Lawral More than 1 year ago
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
EdgarG More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Liza44 More than 1 year ago
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.
packratx More than 1 year ago
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!
Annabelle17 More than 1 year ago
This contains the right mix of creepy, adventure, plot and family. It reminds me of some of the true classics I grew up with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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'!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for kids.
VictoriaLorr More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss your hand three times rwpost this on three other books and one will be under your pillow
224perweek More than 1 year ago
This was quite the adventure. From start to finish, I was on the edge of my seat. I loved all the characters even though they were a little predictable. However, my favorites were the earthworms. They added a bit of mystery to the story. Them and Billycan. Very strange.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
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.
Teeny32 More than 1 year ago
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.