Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Henderbell: The Shadow of Saint Nicholas

Rate this book
An M/M romance between a man and an elf. A cursed bloodline. A forbidden world.

“Maybe this was the reason why I always felt like an outsider growing up. I never belonged in the ordinary. I was born to live amidst magic.” Enzo Griffin

Enzo and Ava Griffin never expected to face their worst nightmare on Christmas eve. Though they always dreamed of magic, they never thought of its actual existence, and the consequence it carries. During a violent snow storm, they’re visited by foul creatures called Shadow Spirits. The eerie beings kidnap both of their grandparents, vanishing into a portal found on the bark of a tree.

After the frightening incident, Enzo and Ava discover Henderbell, a world full of magic, wonder, and secrets. But an impending doom is revealed to them. The king and queen of Henderbell are missing, and their absence could trigger the destruction of this new-found world and the human realm. On the quest to find both Henderbellian rulers, Enzo and Ava learn of a curse placed upon their own bloodline. But other ancient enemies have risen from their graves, seeking revenge for a past unknown to them.

Enzo and Ava find friendship, courage, and love as they face unimaginable darkness in the quest to redeem the world they belong and the one they live in.

Can you discover the curse hidden in the shadows?

Full of magic, mystery, and adventure, Henderbell: The Shadow of Saint Nicholas is the perfect read for fans of Narnia and The Golden Compass.

Kindle Edition

First published November 8, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

J.D. Netto

14 books528 followers
J.D. Netto is a multi-faceted bestselling author. His first fantasy series, The Whispers of the Fallen, became an underground phenomenon when first published. He’s also the founder of Saved by the Page, a movement that invites readers to share stories on how books saved their lives. A few of these heroic tales were compiled into an anthology, published in 2018. He’s also known for Henderbell: The Shadow of Saint Nicholas—a speculative fiction novel that follows the cursed bloodline of Father Christmas. His latest work, The Broken Miracle: Part One, is a fictional biography inspired by the life of acclaimed pianist Paul Cardall and his journey living with half a heart. The novel also spawned an album featuring Paul himself alongside David Archuleta, Thompson Square, Tyler Glenn, among others.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
119 (42%)
4 stars
74 (26%)
3 stars
45 (16%)
2 stars
24 (8%)
1 star
18 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 107 reviews
Profile Image for Sasha Alsberg.
Author 8 books66.8k followers
September 10, 2019
If you love Narnia, then this is the perfect read for you! It has really great twists and turns throughout, including the ending which left me SHOOK!
Profile Image for Taran Matharu.
Author 24 books3,963 followers
September 26, 2019
Narnia with teeth! J.D.’s somber and atmospheric style shines through in this book. The ending will keep you guessing!
Profile Image for Gabriel.
126 reviews96 followers
December 14, 2021
This book is perfect for those who are looking for something that would remind them that once upon a time, they were kids who dreamed of becoming a hero who saved an alternate universe from the clutches of evil.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Bravo.
47 reviews7 followers
August 15, 2019
The kidnapping of Saint Nicholas. A curse placed on his bloodline. The world of Henderbell awaits.

Let me start of by saying J.D. Netto did it again. A masterpiece of a book . From the very first sentence to the very last. I was sucked into the world of Henderbell. A story around Christmas who doesn't love Christmas.
Just an FYI you might need some tissues. I know I did.
I highly recommend you reading Henderbell. It's an amazing story.

I recommend
Profile Image for connor.
24 reviews
December 27, 2019

3.5 stars for grammar and spelling errors, but over all a good story. i would have loved to see the kids sword fighting and being badass like the narnia kids but maybe we'll see that in the next book.

ava's gonna be such a good queen yall i can't wait to see her reign

ishmael/loomstak were so good but for once, just once, i want gay characters to live and have happy endings. straight characters get to have that, why aren't we allowed to?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
2 reviews
March 8, 2020
I picked up this book based on several reviews comparing it to Narnia. That was so misguiding. I love Narnia, I often dream about Narnia, I re-read Narnia about once a year... but this has NOTHING TO DO WITH NARNIA. And it doesn't even come close to Lewis' work.
It was with great pain that I forced myself to reach the end of the book. What a waste of time.
Profile Image for Diana J.
20 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2019
This book was terrible! It was littered with typos, expected you to just KNOW important characters and the rules in which the worlds and their magic functioned. Usually a book like this would take me a day to finish. It took me four because I had to force myself to read it, I did pay for it after all. It read like it was written by a middle schooler
Profile Image for JM.
208 reviews8 followers
January 21, 2020
While Henderbell was a great reminder of my younger days; of reading children's book and widening my imagination with those adventures filled pages. Henderbell also carried a darker side, it tackled aspects and situations that some developing young adults face in real life; such as toxic family household, bullying, and lack of adult care and guidance. Sadly, these aspects weren't utilized to develop the main character and his story.

While the story flow was quite entertaining, it was severely lacking in answering important world and family background questions and history. The world building was just okay; the initial concept of the world was easy to get into, but as more details into the magical world and its connection to the normal world got tackled, the explanation became confusing and a tad lacking. Backgrounds between the two different worlds and its various rulers and lands weren't properly explored and a map of the magical world would have been helpful and could provide better visualization for readers.

The book also consisted of multiple character point of views and while one character had the most chapter presence, I would say it was still difficult creating a connection with him. There are also instances in the book wherein some actions of other characters become quite questionable and hard to believe. I would have appreciated if the characters growth was brought upon an instance or situation.

Would I still read the next book? Certainly. I' am looking forward to having my questions answered and to read about the future adventures that lie ahead for the Griffin family.
Profile Image for Emma Crowley.
31 reviews3 followers
September 4, 2019
Just a heads up, I did receive an ARC copy for free in exchange for a review. Ok, here goes.

This story should really be called Henderbell: The Things That Happened to Prince Enzo. The heroes of this story exist mainly to show the reader around this strange world of Henderbell and don't do much to impact it. Even Ava, who is shown by a god to be a fierce warrior queen, does little more than scream and cower under the bed beside her brother. They're both boring if I'm quite honest, and the character I was most interested in seeing developed was killed for the sake of Enzo's character growth.

The world-building, on the other hand, was pretty good. We learned of a kingdom ruled by King Nicholas that celebrates Christmas as a national holiday. There is a great and long history of family disputes and kingdom-wide that I hope we learn more about in the coming books. It feels like any other fantasy world though, so I am eager to see how it differs in the future.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Caryn.
243 reviews3 followers
Want to read
December 23, 2021
UPDATE: The author reached out to me and I somehow received an unedited version! He is sending me the correct version so I can give the story another shot!

DNF @ 105 pages

I gave Henderbell 105 pages and I just cannot do it anymore. There were SO MANY grammatical errors. Missing words, wrong words used (twice the same word was used incorrectly), extra letters in words, wrong tense. It was just so so distracting. The story itself could be interesting but it clips along with very little description and mostly (poorly done) dialogue. “Action” happens but it’s so quick you don’t even really know what’s happening. I have no feelings towards the characters, setting, or story other than annoyance at the poor writing, so I had to put it away. I do not think I will come back to it, nor would I necessarily recommend it. But to each their own.
Profile Image for Rhin Black.
113 reviews
December 23, 2019
I was very excited to get this book. I got the special edition Beacon Book box specifically made to be centered around this book. The description really caught my fancy. I wasn't expecting a lot honestly. Just a fun Christmas book. I waited till today, the 23rd of December to start so that I can be sure to finish on Christmas. I've had this book for about a month now.

I started and...20 pages in, I finally gave up. I wanted to give up 3 times in the first 10 pages. While the idea is probably good, this book needs a copy editor. It is very obvious that there was no professional copy editor involved in this. There are grammatical errors, misspellings, weird phrasing, bad punctuation, etc. Honestly it was torture trying to read it. The writing style is not very descriptive but that is something I could get over. If you care about grammar or spelling AT ALL then this is not the book for you. Not unless the author decides to give it to a professional copy editor first because it needs it badly.

So I have no idea how anything else is in the book. World building, characters, no idea. 20 pages is all I could force myself to get through.

The author has the first 3 chapters, I think, on his site. Go check those out and if his writing style and grammar don't bother you then I'd say you will enjoy this book. But if "on seventh grade" instead of "in seventh grade" and "I forced a smiled" bug you, this is not the book for you. I have many more examples from just the first 20 pages.

You have been warned.

P.s. I am super sad. I was really looking forward to reading a Santa book on Christmas
August 11, 2019
The kidnapping of Saint Nicholas. A curse placed on his bloodline. The world of Henderbell awaits.

Just the first chapter I couldn't help but fall in love with the story. From the moment I began to read to the moment I finished. I couldn't stop reading. The first chapter had me hooked. It's written in a way that makes you curious about what will happen next, but not drag on and make you wait too long. Once you go to the world of Henderbell, you experience and learn about a whole new world. You rarely see a world based on Christmas, which makes the story more fun and creative. One amazing thing about reading is that few hours of escaping reality to put yourself into this new world. Henderbell is an amazing new world when needing a fantasy escape.

Recommend this book 10/10!
Profile Image for Hayle Frantz.
23 reviews
November 20, 2019
I just finished Henderbell and there is one thing I need to say to JD Netto. I NEED MORE NOW!! That cliffhanger was NOT OKAY!!

This book was SO good! I literally read it in 24 hours. Now there are some minor errors such as typos and a word being used wrong multiple times but hey it’s fine!💁🏼‍♀️

If you are looking for a great fantasy book to read, this is the book for you! It captures you from the first chapter. AND THE PLOT TWISTS! 😍😍🤯 Yall. Mind blown. Was not prepared in the slightest ! Just read it okay?
Profile Image for Shandell Jensen.
7 reviews6 followers
August 5, 2020
Absolutely loved it!! Kept me on my toes!! Lots of twists and turns and a shock ending!! ❤️❤️❤️ to J.D can’t wait for more!
January 25, 2021
Refreshingly unpredictable storyline and unexpected conclusion. I’m looking forward to seeing where J.D. takes this story next!
17 reviews
January 6, 2021
This was a really fun read! I especially loved the villain characters and the concept for the world of Henderbell. There is so much undiscovered in this world that I want to read more about and what an ending!! I really hope for a second book!:):)
Profile Image for Ciro.
3 reviews
May 26, 2023
Very basic in my opinion but still okay :)
Profile Image for Marilee.
272 reviews
December 18, 2019
I was fortunate to win a copy of Henderbell: the Shadow of Saint Nicholas in an Instagram giveaway, and I'm so glad I did! I really enjoyed it. It's about siblings Enzo and Ava, a family curse, magic, saving two worlds, and all with a dark Christmas twist! I am truly excited to see what will happen in the next book!
Profile Image for Daniel Rose.
475 reviews6 followers
December 4, 2021
I knew NOTHING about this book going in but WOW! it was amazing! I couldn’t put it down! Such a great Christmas fantasy adventure! I must read the short story sequel now!
Profile Image for Nargis  Kalani.
405 reviews86 followers
March 31, 2020
"The prophecy of the empty thrones will come to pass. The magic of time is no longer contained in royal blood. We ventured into the human realm and found them. The spirits you once cast away have now returned to avenge who they are."

I want to thank JD Netto for providing me with an e-ARC of his book in exchange for an honest review.

The kidnapping of Saint Nicholas. A curse placed on his bloodline. The world of Henderbell awaits.

This book gave me Narnia vibes but honestly, the story is way different. First, let me mention a few similarities. To enter the world of Narnia, there was always a portal sort of. To enter the world of Henderbell, there's some kind of time bending portal magic. Both Narnia and Henderbell are the types of books you can read during Christmas time (I love Christmast). Both these worlds have royalties. And obviously, both these worlds are magical.

JD weaved a totally different kind of tale that revolved around Christmas time and that its a magical time. There are these dark creatures called Shadow spirits.

Enzo and Ava are siblings who are tired of their parents fighting all the time. They think this Christmas will just be plain and normal but their mother decides to send them off to their Grandparents. They both are excited to go spend time with them after years. Little do they know, there's a secret hidden from both of them and they are about to discover the family secret. The day before Christmas, Enzo and Ava's grandparents are kidnapped by shadow spirits right in front of them. Both the children are scared and shocked and they decide to go through that ancient tree right outside the house because there was no other way to save their grandparents. They suddenly enter the world of Henderbell.

I honestly, couldn't put this book down. JD Netto is such a talented author and now he's one of my favorites. I loved all the details about the world of henderbell and specially its history. I also loved the fact that there was LGBT representation in this story. This book is adorned with a powerful message about magic being a responsibility and how need to believe in yourself to conquer your fears and evolve.
Profile Image for Stephanie Sarac.
102 reviews4 followers
December 8, 2019
If you are like me and don't read contemporary too often but wanted a holiday book, then this book is for you. I was so excited to find a fantasy Christmas book. The story itself is a great story and I loved it. It would have been a five star read if the editing was better.
Profile Image for Kelsie Christensen.
227 reviews15 followers
December 7, 2020
Oh my god this was PHENOMENAL! Twists and turns I didn’t see coming and that ending though.... I need the next book! Perfectly dark and magical and Christmas-y. Loved every second of it 😍
Profile Image for Gina Hawk.
228 reviews40 followers
January 31, 2020
How is it going to end like that?! Is their going to be a sequel?!

This was a nice, quick and atmosphere holiday read. Perfect type of book to cozy up to and breeze through quickly.

I loved the different but same type of perspective on Christmas. But I need answers!!!

I would say this leans more towards the younger audience of YA, but that’s coming from a 35 year old woman. 😀

Good choice Beacon Book Box.

Kindle Unlimited
Profile Image for Jennifer.
134 reviews22 followers
December 13, 2019
This was an entertaining Winter/Christmas fantasy story with good pacing however I felt it lacked character development. My favorite character was Ava. I felt she was the most developed and I can totally relate to her love of plushies. Kurah was an interesting character as well. He reminded me of the Celtic God Cernnanous.

I really don't get how this is being compared so much to Narnia. I guess the "winter fantasy" but the comparisons end there for me. I really wanted to like this more but maybe my expectations were just too high?
Profile Image for Tiffany Martin.
334 reviews2 followers
February 1, 2020
Really cool concepts in this YA novel. Ava & Enzo are thrust into the adventure of a lifetime when their grandparents are kidnapped at Christmastime by these evil beings, called Shadow Spirits. Ava & Enzo go after them and enter the world of Henderbell. They discover their grandparents are actually the King and Queen of Henderbell...and in truth, are in fact, Mr and Mrs. Santa Clause but this tale is a far darker twist. And, I really enjoyed the darker twist to this story plot. And, of course, with the grandparents being King & Queen (Mr & Mrs Santa Clause, you then have Ava & Enzo realizing they are Prince & Princess and have magic and they must either accept or deny this for themselves and that is pretty cool as well). With the help of Doopar and Ishmael, Ava & Enzo go after their grandparents to save Henderbell and Earth (as both are tied together and their fates are tied together). I really enjoyed a lot of the elements of this novel and if it had been further developed, I easily would have given it 4 or 5 stars but it lacked a bit of development for me to give it those extra stars. It was still super enjoyable to read though. There's tons of similar feel to Narnia and that world and Aslan (with a stag named Hurah instead and both Ava and Enzo being children who have encounters with a "God" who is like Aslan and is an animal and even Heaven type references and such so that was a little cool but also felt a little been there/done that of sorts...and even some of the characters had that Mr. Tumnus type feel and entire world type feel to it but still, a really cool vibe and I'm curious to see if a 2nd novel is released to continue where the huge cliff hanger left off at the end.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Tracey.
41 reviews
January 2, 2020
This is an amazing book! I read it in one day because I had to know what happened next. I loved that it was different from most the books I've been reading lately. It follows two kids who have a bad home life and their journey in a new world. The characters are very realistic and I felt so many emotions reading this. The end is killing me, I hope there is a sequel...SOON!
Profile Image for Mahrosh.
19 reviews2 followers
October 11, 2019

Another Magical World u would never want to leave. Honestly! J. D. is so cruel he know how to MURDER a Reader. I am still screaming After a week. Every Character is so (you Know) Heart touching.
It got me hooked from the 1st chapter and even in the middle I thought I spoiled myself then something sooo twisted happened and I was startled for an hour. It has really great twisted story. You guys gonna love AVA and DOOPAR soo much believe me.

P.S: J.D I want 400 pages in book 2. I wanna live in Henderbell for at least 2 or 3 Days.

Highly Recommended to Magic Lovers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 107 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.