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Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles, Book…

Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles, Book I) (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Hilary Wagner, Omar Rayyan (Illustrator)

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834271,519 (4.23)None
Eleven years after the cruel Killdeer took over the Catacombs far beneath the human's Trillium City, Juniper Belancourt, assisted by Vincent and Victor Nightshade, leads a maverick band of rats to escape and establish their own city.
Title:Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles, Book I)
Authors:Hilary Wagner
Other authors:Omar Rayyan (Illustrator)
Info:Holiday House (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 260 pages
Collections:Your library

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Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner (2010)


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Killdeer and his enforcer Billycan run the Catacombs (home for the rats) via terror, killings, and intimidation. The Nightshade brothers, Juniper and his attractive niece Clover and the earthworms create another city and help mount an insurgency to restore a world based on laws and fairness. I found the book, the characters, and the storyline too simplistic and formulaic for an adult reader. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Redwall by way of Suzanne Collins. Grimmer and more grotesque, but well-constructed. ( )
  ref27 | Sep 21, 2011 |
This is a fast-paced story about a community of rats who live in catacombs under the city and rebel against the current dictatorship. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was reminded of The Redwall series. Boys especially might like this book as they read about two teenage rats whose father was a hero to the cause and are accepted as leaders in the rebellion. There's a little of everything, action, fighting, romance, and mystery. Though predictable to a mature reader, it's still engaging and young readers will be hooked. ( )
  tlwood | Apr 5, 2011 |
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 ( )
1 vote lawral | Oct 25, 2010 |
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To my husband, Eric
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Juniper slept like the dead.
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Eleven years after the cruel Killdeer took over the Catacombs far beneath the human's Trillium City, Juniper Belancourt, assisted by Vincent and Victor Nightshade, leads a maverick band of rats to escape and establish their own city.

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