Streaks of preciousness mar, or at least mark, an “origins” tale framed as a monumental struggle between the King of Nightmares and a Cossack bandit plainly destined for a later career bringing gifts to children on Christmas Eve.
Escaping 1,000 years of captivity, Pitch, the Nightmare King, has sent hordes of Fearlings out to darken the dreams of children worldwide and attacked the happy Siberian town of Santoff Claussen. Orchestrated by Tsar Lunar, the Man in the Moon, a small company sets out to gather the first of five ancient relics that will help defeat Pitch. The band is made up of kindly old wizard Ombric Shalazar (last survivor of Atlantis and inventor of “time, gravity, and bouncing balls!”); his ward, the intrepid young orphan Katherine; a mysterious elfin creature; and, last but not least, Nicholas St. North—an exuberant former bandit chieftain turned inventor who is “no longer a thief of treasures but a buccaneer of fun” thanks to Ombric's tutelage in magic and science. With help from an army of yetis led by the Lunar Lamas (who are quaintly described as “inscrutable” and also look identical in the accompanying illustration), Pitch is fended off in a great battle in the Himalayas, the relic is recovered and it's off to further episodes. Many further episodes, as this is just the opening novel in an ambitious multimedia project dubbed “The Guardians of Childhood.” (The Man in the Moon, 2011, is the companion opening picture book in the project.)
A quick read, with plenty of rococo weapons, characters and creatures (notably reindeer). (Fantasy. 9-11)