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Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles #1)

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  336 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
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 har

Paperback, 262 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Holiday House (first published October 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,675)
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Victoria Morris
Jul 19, 2010 Victoria Morris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I feel privileged to have gotten the chance to read Nightshade City three months before it's release date.

This story warmed my heart, made me laugh out loud and cry solid fall down the cheek tears. A huge range of emotion I did not expect.

I fell into the world lock stock and dirt tunnel never leaving until there were no words left to climb. Each character formed solidly in my mind, their hopes, dreams and fears digging their way into my soul. Especially Noc, my favorite.

A wonderful story of wha
Mar 19, 2011 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a teacher at a boy's school and going into this book, I thought it would purely be a "boy" book that my students may like, but it's a book for all children. The two main female characters, out of a large group of males, stand out well. The story is compelling and rich with detail of the underground world the author has created. This fits in well with other animal series, such as Redwall, Ga'hoole, etc, but it stands on its own two feet. It deals with issues of oppression and corrupt governme ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Robert Kent
Okay, let’s talk about this book, starting with its title: Nightshade City. Actually, I don’t really have anything to say about the title other than I like it. It’s just plain cool. It’s a title, like the title Watership Down, that doesn’t really tell us much about the book, and yet is intriguing just the same. If memory serves, Watership Down is actually the name of the hill near Hampshire where Richard Adams’ rabbits who think and even act a little like people live. Well, Nightshade City is th ...more
Oct 07, 2010 Carolina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The coolest thing about this book was that while you never forget that the characters are rats, you actually sort of do. See, I have never liked rats. Something about the tail, I think. And maybe the plague. But while I was reading NIGHTSHADE CITY, I found myself wanting to hold one in my hand and pet its cute little tail, and maybe ask it over for dinner so I could give him a tiny plate with a tiny wedge of cheese and maybe a tiny tankard filled with a tiny amount of ale. It would be great fun ...more
In underground catacombs live a city of rats. Once a peaceful city now ruled by two violent and relentless rats, Billycan and Killdeer, who thrive on controling their own kind.
However, there are some rats who won't stand for it much longer. Brothers Vincent and Victor escape the catacombs and go Topside for the chance at a better life. Topside the brothers find another city of rats, ones who have fought when Billycan and Killdeer took over their city in the catacombs and they plan to overthrow
Brian James
Aug 15, 2011 Brian James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always a sucker for middle grade, talking animal fantasy, I naturally had to read one that has been so positively reviewed here. Having been a huge Redwall fan for over a decade, I admit to being a little skeptical of Nightsahde City because of the publisher's obvious attempt to make the book 'look' like that series. I was actually pleased that the story doesn't resemble those books in tone or spirit, but rather is a very original story with wonderfully formed characters. Hilary Wagner certainly ...more
Jennifer McFadden
Oct 17, 2010 Jennifer McFadden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Nightshade City is a wonderful tale of intelligent rats who are forced to live under the brutal High Minister Killdeer and Billycan, a ruthless former lab whose favorite activity is to torture and kill his innocent subjects. But Billycan's old enemy, Juniper, is planning his revenge.

This book is a must read for anyone nine and older.
Christine Fonseca
Great tale of family and friendship. Wonferdul read from debut author Hilary Wagner - deserved every last word of Riordan's endorcement.
Nightshade City was a interesting read, about anthropomorphic rats living underground in a city called the Catacombs. Everything was peaceful, until one day some evil rats, led by the rats Killdeer and Billycan, killed the good ruler and took over, turning the Catacombs into a place of terror, where the rats lived in fear every moment of the day.
A male rat named Juniper, supposedly killed by Billycan during the Bloody Coup, is living in hiding with his niece,Clover, waiting for the right moment
Oct 25, 2010 Lawral rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 the ...more
Patricia Kaniasty
Nov 07, 2014 Patricia Kaniasty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
Mortimus Clay
Dec 18, 2010 Mortimus Clay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hi Hilary,

Here are the thoughts of my daughter Hannah on Nightshade City. (She's eleven)

"I love Nightshade City (as my dad has already told you). I love all the characters and that you describe them all. But I sort of had a hard time imagining Lali. I know what she looks like except for her color. I don't think you say in the book.

I was also wondering who are the rats on page 201?

I love your book and I can't wait for the next one to come out. and also as my dad told you, I'm on my fourth time
Jen Blom
May 06, 2010 Jen Blom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book a couple times now, and Mr. Riordan's recommendation is entirely appropriate - this is a great book! I'm definitely Team Juniper. A caveat: I read this book in its ARC form & know the author -- but I'd love this book anyway, *especially* if I was a kid again. It really highlights family and togetherness, as well as being spooky enough for the average boy to enjoy. I can see this being a fan favorite!

I'm also super excited that Billycan - BOOK 2 - has been sold to Holiday
Briana Hudson
Mar 27, 2012 Briana Hudson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is written in a literary style, very much like Watership Down and even Charles Dickens' works. More for 9 and up, rather than younger kids. That said, I thought it was a fast paced story, full of twists and turns. Each new chapter brought a new element to the mystery which all comes together at the end. It does have some violence, but no more than the HP series or other MG books I've read. I just finished the 2nd book, which I actually thought was better than the first, which is surprising ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Markus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember when I downloaded this freebie from Amazon to my Kindle so I don't remember if it was listed as a childern's book or not. The obvious guess is that it is for kids because the story is of a community of rats that go through a war.

And yet some of the themes were pretty intense for kiddos. Fairly violent scenes, including a strangling, and ripping out an eyeball. The bad leader is a heavy drinker and uses the lady rats against their will. This is spoken of in pretty indirect terms
This was a fun and action-packed animal adventure story. I was a bit skeptical at first, because I'm not usually a fan of animal books, but I was drawn into the action and found myself rooting for those rats! It was a lot of fun and I think kids who love animal books or just a great adventure will enjoy it. Full review at One Librarian's Book Reviews.
Jan 14, 2011 Rusty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good children's book. These colorful rats have warm, real, sensitive personalities and care about each other. The opposing group is cruel, sadistic and controlling. While there is discussion of violence and descriptions of what has happened to those who object to the cruel group the author does not dwell on that aspect. A first book for Hilary Wagner, she uses the classic theme of good and evil.
Oct 17, 2010 Reeva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a really good book. The story was fantasic and the characters were great. The only thing that I didn't like was the whole rats... I could not get past the fact that they were rats. I really liked the book. One of the better books that I have read. Rats gross me out. Thank you Hilary for letting me enter the world of nightshade city. I really liked it, just not the rats so much ;p.
Judith-Victoria Douglas
A wonderful children's tale.
Even adults like this kind of story, becoming a child again by suspending reality for a new and different world, one that broadens the imagination. Like others have said, I sometimes forgot these were rats, not humans, similar to other major rat-character stories, such as The Rescuers, etc. They mirror human behavior and actions all too well, even with the story revealing current socio-political concerns. An author can tell almost anything if its in the realms of Sci-
Medeia Sharif
Jul 27, 2010 Medeia Sharif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I've never read a book about rats before, so I was surprised when I fell in love with the characters in NIGHTSHADE CITY. There was plenty of action and suspense to keep me turning the pages as Juniper's faction rebels against Killdeer's in a battle of good versus evil. The author created a believable, well-defined world of an underground rodent civilization.
Redwallcrazy- My God is Healer, Awesome in Power!
Dec 26, 2010 Redwallcrazy- My God is Healer, Awesome in Power! rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves Redwall and other animal stories
Recommended to Redwallcrazy- My God is Healer, Awesome in Power! by: Barnes and Noble
I very much enjoyed this book, and I hope another one comes out. It was very interesting and emphasized the importance of family and how we should stick together. Very well done book.
T. Frohock
Oct 01, 2010 T. Frohock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A super fantasy for young people, Nightshade City has it all: adventure, bad guys, and really cool rats that you will love. Booklove review coming soon!
Gretchen McNeil
Nov 04, 2010 Gretchen McNeil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome debut that'll bring back memories of Nimh and Watership Down, and make you sad you have to leave the world when it's over!
Tori Stride
Jun 27, 2010 Tori Stride rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read the ARC over the weekend--fabulous! It reminds me of all the classic books I read as a kid and the writing is terrific. NIMH 2.0!
Hilary Wagner
Aug 25, 2010 Hilary Wagner rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe my first book has an ISBN number! I hope you love it as much I do and thanks for reading Nightshade City!
Mary Francis
May 05, 2010 Mary Francis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wagner creates a believable underground world and memorable characters, some you'll love and some you'll loathe!
Jan 22, 2015 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Our library received the third in her series as a not yet published book to review. I was grabbed by the cover art and intrigued by a rat story. The emotions felt by and the human characterization of each rat were very well written in language a bit too difficult for nine-year-olds, in fact so much so that I repeatedly asked my 15-year-old son if he still thought this was for fourth-graders. His reply was a resounding yes, being a Redwall fan himself. He's convinced me that I was wrong. Hillary' ...more
Jan 08, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this for my birthday. Read it in 2 days! I loved this book.
Sep 23, 2010 Janssen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, 2010
This was closer to a four star book - really very good.
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I live in Chicago with my crazy husband and two crazier kids! Please check out my blog for excerpts of my work & my crazy road to publishing! or go the the official website at
I'm also the founder of PROJECT MIDDLE GRADE MAYHEM! Come see what we're blathering about at www.project-middle-grade-mayhem.blogs...

“Fans of Redwall and the Warriors
More about Hilary Wagner...

Other Books in the Series

Nightshade Chronicles (3 books)
  • The White Assassin (Nightshade Chronicles, #2)
  • Lords of Trillium

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