HOW NICHOLAS BECAME SANTA CLAUSE
Troupe, Sandra Jo and Darrell R. Troupe AuthorHouse (426 pp.) $31.99 hardcover, $23.95 paperback, $3.99 e-book ISBN: 978-1477204764; June 13, 2012
A debut novel that asks: Where did Santa Claus come from?
In the distant past, in what appears to be a mystical version of our own world—elves and gnomes exist, but so does Beethoven—an infant named Nicholas is orphaned when his parents die in an accident. He’s found by Tom, a kindly old carpenter and toymaker, and Tom and his wife end up raising him. It soon becomes apparent that Nicholas is special; he can guess a person’s favorite things and dearest wish. He soon expresses his own wish to be able to fly, so that he can see into the hearts of all the people in the world, and, presumably, reward the good ones. Every hero needs a villainous counterpart, and, in this case, it’s the king’s jealous brother, Zili, who steals from the villagers, murders magical creatures who live in the kingdom, and—in what Nicholas considers the worst crime of all—melts down children’s toys to make weaponry. The novel hits all the beats of a good hero story, but in the end, it simply isn’t engaging enough to sustain a tale of this length—especially when it telegraphs the ending in its title. The book doesn’t appear to be aimed at children, who are the most likely to be interested in the storyline, but there’s little about the novel that’s decidedly adult, either. The authors don’t lack creativity, dreaming up legions of supporting characters and fresh takes on magical creatures that are standbys in fantasy. On the other hand, the novel doesn’t give a clear sense of its world’s geography, struggles with punctuation and capitalization errors, and distractingly and consistently misspells Claus as “Clause” throughout the story.
An unevenly executed origin story of Jolly Old Saint Nick.
Blue Ink Reviews
How Nicholas Became Santa Clause
Sandra Jo Troupe and Darrell R Troupe, Sr.
AuthorHouse, 376 pages, (paperback) $23.95, 978-1-4772-0475-7 (Reviewed: May 2013)
Did you ever wonder who Santa Claus really was, where he came from, and how he came to possess magic, immortality, and that big, all-knowing heart? Sandra Jo Troupe and Darrell R Troupe Sr., coauthors of How Nicholas Became Santa Clause, offer an answer in this novel that imagines a fantastical realm.
In this book, readers enter a world where humans, wizards, dragons and “Oddlings”— human-like creatures such as trolls, elves and fairies — exist in a cosmic web of life, called the “Linking.” Good and evil exist, yet until the dawning of young Nicholas’s life, good has been in the forefront. But signs appear in the Kingdom of the Auroras that King Richard Dobromil’s jealous second son is tipping the balance toward evil and will stop at nothing to obtain absolute power.
At the heart of the growing threat is a prophecy about a young man whose destiny it is to restore the balance. Nicholas, a simple farm boy, is forever marked by this prophecy and must grow into the hero who can restore balance to the Linking or lose it all. A risk-all love story interwoven with his fate adds to this tense, satisfying journey.
Two issues weigh down the storytelling here. The authors seem enamored with certain words—especially “glimpsed” and “simpered — which distract readers from the story. And descriptive scene-setting vignettes are often longwinded when fewer words and crisper detail would better propel the story forward.
Still, the Troupes have created an original, deeply appealing fantasy world that explains how Nicholas, a boy from two worlds—the ordinary and the magical—came into being as a deeper character in our psyches. It’s such a magical tale that one wonders if a more riveting, magical title would serve the book better, such as The Linking, or Nicholas and the Kingdom of the Auroras.
BlueInk Heads Up: The depth of the mythic and magical realm that the Troupes have created here echoes the themes of non-fiction classics such as Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces and Tony van Renterghem’s When Santa Was A Shaman.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.
How Nicholas Became Santa Clause
Darrell R. Troupe Sr. Sandra Jo Troupe Author House 978-1-4772-0475-7 Four Stars (out of Five)
How Nicholas Became Santa Clause has precious little to do with Santa and the holiday with which he is normally associated. This is not a Christmas story, and the Clause (with an “e” at the end of “Claus”) of the title, magical toymaker that he turns out to be, is nothing like the big- bellied man in the red velvet suit.
Sandra Jo Troupe and Darrell R. Troupe have instead concocted a rather traditional fantasy adventure in which the person who is to someday become Santa is an orphan raised by Thomas Clause, a carpenter and master toymaker, in a pseudo-eighteenth-century northern European kingdom where fairies, talking polar bears, wizards, and dragons abound. Nicholas is especially attuned to “the linkage, the magic created by the energy connecting all things living.” Like another young lad in a galaxy far, far away, he will eventually draw upon that force to battle the bad guy and save the princess.
How Nicholas Became Santa Clause may disappoint readers seeking a Kris Kringle story, but it is a nice G-rated young adult adventure, one suited even for bedtime reading to or by older children. The Orphic Forest, wherein much of the tale is set, is indeed a mystic wood, and there live trolls, gnomes, ogres, shape-shifters, giants, and other creatures familiar to fans of the genre. There are also some less-expected cameo appearances by Jack Frost and Father Time, to name just a couple. The authors add in a few unique creatures, notably the blackhearts, “wrinkled little men” who can move about rapidly by turning themselves into “inverted tornadoes.”
The evil that drives the plot emanates from one “overly intense” and surly prince named Zili, who seeks to steal his older brother’s throne. He and his plot take over the novel to the point that the authors seemingly forget Nicholas and make no mention of him for about 150-plus pages.
The Troupes write to a younger audience quite charmingly, although with numerous ifminor typographical errors. “Coup” for “coop,” “patient’s” for “patience,” “Princess Anglican” for “Princess Angelica,” and varying combinations of upper and lower case for “Royal Equestrian Guard” are but some of the book’s trifling yet frequent mistakes.
The story is a traditional and linear one, and it makes for a light and entertaining diversion. It is easy for children, teens, and adults to follow, and there are enough surprises and twists to keep readers (or those being read to) interested. Here and there, the Troupes do sprinkle in a bit of the traditional Santa legend, such as when Nicholas remarks that “all good children are special” and “all children are good,” or when the king tells Tom Clause, “your boy has brass. One day, everyone, everywhere shall know his name.”
Before becoming a well-known figure, however, Nicholas must first battle like a Jedi and “use the linkage,” as the voice only he can hear tells him, so that he can become the “people’s champion” and thus earn from his king the sobriquet “Santa Clause—guardian of those in need.”