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Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles #1)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  353 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
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 harsh dictatorship ruled by the High Minister Kildeer and his henchman, Billycan, who runs the Kill Army and collects weekly Stipend from the terrified subjects. The two of them rule with iron ...more
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Holiday House
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Community Reviews

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Mar 19, 2011 Bill rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Victoria Morris
Jul 19, 2010 Victoria Morris rated it it was amazing
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
Robert Kent
Sep 30, 2010 Robert Kent rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 08, 2011 jennifer rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 07, 2010 Carolina rated it it was amazing
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
Brian James
Aug 15, 2011 Brian James rated it really liked it
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
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
Jennifer McFadden
Oct 17, 2010 Jennifer McFadden rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 26, 2010 Christine Fonseca rated it it was amazing
Great tale of family and friendship. Wonferdul read from debut author Hilary Wagner - deserved every last word of Riordan's endorcement.
Mar 15, 2011 Janeen-san rated it liked it
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
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 ...more
Mortimus Clay
Dec 18, 2010 Mortimus Clay rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Jan 14, 2011 Rusty rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 30, 2010 melissa1lbr rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 17, 2010 Reeva rated it really liked it
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.
Medeia Sharif
Jul 27, 2010 Medeia Sharif rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Mary Francis
May 05, 2010 Mary Francis rated it it was amazing
Wagner creates a believable underground world and memorable characters, some you'll love and some you'll loathe!
Gretchen McNeil
Nov 04, 2010 Gretchen McNeil rated it it was amazing
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!
Hilary Wagner
Aug 25, 2010 Hilary Wagner rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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!
Tori Stride
Jun 27, 2010 Tori Stride rated it it was amazing
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!
T. Frohock
Oct 01, 2010 T. Frohock rated it really liked it
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!
Redwallcrazy- My God is Healer, Awesome in Power!
Dec 26, 2010 Redwallcrazy- My God is Healer, Awesome in Power! rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 08, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing
I got this for my birthday. Read it in 2 days! I loved this book.
Katy Z
Dec 26, 2010 Katy Z rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2010 Janssen rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2010
This was closer to a four star book - really very good.
Candace | Evianrei
Sep 30, 2016 Candace | Evianrei rated it it was amazing
I could not rate this book highly enough! As a fan of the Redwall series, I took to this book very well. This one easily has become one of my favorites, and I'll be picking up a hard copy the next time I get a chance, it has earned a spot on my bookshelf!

It tells the story of a secret city, and a rebellion of freedom against enslavement and cruelty.
The characters are well-rounded and lovable (even the villains, a good villain always makes the book more suspenseful and thrilling).

The characte
Oct 01, 2016 Hillvan added it
Shelves: 7-2016-fall
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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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