Nickolai is the last surviving elf in the world….. orphaned as a baby when his magical home in the caverns under the North Pole is destroyed by the wicked sorceress, Magda. She returns from exile in the fiery core of the earth to wreak revenge on the Elfin Kingdom, stealing their life force and turning them back into the lifeless rocks they came from. Only baby Nick escapes with his Light Fairy Elvina. Rescued from the jaws of Magda’s wolves by Comet, Queen of the flying reindeer, he is carried South and dropped down a chimney, where he is adopted by a human couple. As he grows up amongst humans, he soon realises he is different when he is teased and bullied because of his pointed ears. He seeks solace with the flying reindeer in the nearby forest. When he learns of his true origins, he embarks on a quest to find his true identity. He returns to the North Pole with his friends and finds a magnificent Golden City rising out of the snowy wastes…but behind the glittering façade lies something dark and unspeakable… with his rebel urchin colony, his extraordinary toy making skills and the magical powers of his Light Fairy, Nickolai embarks on a heroic battle to save the world’s children from her evil. His epic struggle culminates in his vow to carry out his Christmas mission every year – as a constant reminder that childhood is irreplaceable and must be preserved for all generations.

The story of a legendary superhero that explains once and for all why he does what he does every year.

Read an extract from Nickolai of the North

Nick felt as though his feet had taken root in the floor. His heart somersaulted in his chest as though it wanted to run away, but his body couldn’t follow it.  Icy fingers of fear gripped his stomach as he realized he was in the presence of pure evil. Magda was fixing him with those black, fathomless eyes.

‘Why are you not kneeling in homage!’ she hissed venomously.  

Nick nearly retched with shock. He jumped, and before he could stop it, his hood fell down and revealed his ears. A strangled squeal of alarm came from inside his clothes as Elvina burrowed violently. There was a deathly hush.

Nick‘s heart stopped as Magda stared at him in astonishment, her eyes ablaze.  
‘The elfin brat!’ she screamed, ‘At last! He’s here! Get him!’

The room erupted. The costumes and masks of the jesters fell away to reveal hideous demons underneath. Their faces were putrid green and their eyes glowed like burning coals. They had clawed talons as long as knitting needles and yellow fangs jutting out from red lips, curled into horrible grimaces. Suddenly the room was full of howling wolves, who seemed to be pouring in from all sides.

The monsters began swarming towards him, shrieking and howling. Skank and Skism thundered across the floor, bellowing in rage, with the other goblin guards lumbering in their wake. He looked around wildly as the net of horrible creatures closed in. His eyes came to rest on the fireplace - his only possible escape. He dashed towards it, feeling the demons’ hot talons tearing at him, and the sharp teeth of the wolves snapping at his ankles.

He was nearly at the fireplace, when Volpo materialized in front of him, hunched and threatening, like a wolf about to pounce. An evil smile stretched his lips into a horrible leer. He brought his bony hands out from under his cloak and there was sharp hissing sound. Ten shiny steel talons unsheathed from the ends of his fingers, like the blades of a flick-knife, and glinted in the firelight.


About the Characters in Nickolai of the North

Nickolai
Nick is stubborn, reckless, hot-headed, daring, adventurous and he always leaps into things without thinking it through. He can be a bit arrogant and gets impatient when things don’t go his way. He is also too naïve and trusting and takes things at face value -  until he learns otherwise. But he is also incredibly loving, warm hearted, generous and very brave. People can’t help liking him immediately. Most important, his heart is in the right place. Because his own childhood was so tough and strange, he cares passionately about preserving childhood for all the other children in the world. He is truly selfless, prepared to sacrifice himself for others and the things he believes in. A real superhero of myth and legend.  

Magda
Nick’s arch enemy, the demoness from hell. As you can see in the first picture, she is no oil painting. And yuk – her breath smells gross, like a thousand sewers. But in the next picture she is radiantly beautiful. How did that happen? You’ll have to read the book to find out! Magda is based on a really horrible female boss I once had, but also reminds me of all the nasty people I’ve ever encountered. She is a power-mad monster, a bit like the great super villains of history - Hitler, Napoleon, Ghengis Khan, Attila the Hun, Saddam Hussein, Tony Blair - take your pick. She is vain, arrogant, heartless and needs to be worshipped and obeyed at all times. She believes her own publicity and always thinks she is in the right. In short she is a bully on a massive global scale. We all have people like Magda in our lives, to a greater or lesser degree, and it doesn’t stop after school – you’ll find it all the way through life. So be prepared to stand up to the bullies! The creepy looking guy with her in the carriage is Volpo, her evil sidekick, who advises her and masterminds her plans, rather like a ‘spin doctor’. He is dark and sinister and controls the wolves, using them as his surveillance system.

Zak
Zak – short for Zakurak, – is an Inuit boy whom Nick meets on the way up to the North Pole. He is Nick’s best mate, a tough, brave and resourceful lad with the amazing survival skills of his people. In this scene he has been alone and hasn’t eaten in weeks, and was hunting the polar bear in order to survive. He was initially cross when Nick robbed him of his prey, but they soon made friends. Zak’s hunting and survival skills are a vital help to Nickolai in his journey.

Anneka
Anneka is his other best mate from Norsk, the little town where he grew up. This is the moment when Nick’s Light Fairy brings the toys alive. This helps Nick to reclaim the lost childhood of the children in the Golden City who have fallen prey to Magda’s spell.  Anneka is a spirited, feisty young girl who takes no nonsense and often counsels Nick when he’s in danger of losing the plot. Both Zak and Anneka are his allies and important supplementary characters.

Skank and Skism
This is one of the funniest moments in the story and kids love it when I read it out in schools. It shows Skank and Skism, the grotesque two headed goblin, trying to strangle himself. He is the third in the classic baddie trio - originally an elf who turned into a goblin down in the Vortex. He was in two minds about being one of Magda’s followers, so he split into two personalities. Here he is finally self-destructing after Nick tricks the two heads into a fatal quarrel.
Nickolai and Anneka
Skank and Skism
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Nick escaping from the demons
Nick flying on a reindeer
Magda before her makeover
Magda after her makeover
Nick and Zak

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