Genre: YA rom-com, fantasy
I’m still looking around for a weapon when two people walk in.
Two small people.
No, they can’t be elves just because they’re small and dainty and wearing red and green outfits. And they have pointy ears. A little bit like Luke’s, actually.
“Good morning, everyone,” the female one says way too cheerfully. “What a lovely day. It’s so nice to meet you all. I am Elf Tinsel, and this is my husband, Elf Navidad.”
“Hello.” Elf Navidad waves enthusiastically. “Remember, there’s no point in closing the stable door if the horse is wearing spectacles.”
“Welcome to North Pole Reform School. Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering what’s going on here, and we have come to tell you. If you’ll just… wait…” She consults a clipboard in her arms. “There’s one missing, Navi. Have any of you seen another one?”
“Another one of what?” Luke asks.
“One of you,” Tinsel says. She counts us with a pen. “Yes, there are only four. There are supposed to be five. Have any of you seen the other one?”
We all shake our heads in bewilderment.
“Go and see if you can rouse him would you, Navi dear?”
Navidad walks over to one of the other doors and goes inside.
“Now, the rest of you, we’ve brought some clothes for you to wear, and we’ll need you to put them on before we can get started, and—”
Navidad comes back out. “Bit of a problem, Tinsel. He appears to think he’s dead.” He says it in what is supposed to be a whisper to his wife but we can all hear him.
“You know we can hear you, right?” Luke asks.
Navidad turns to him. “Then you won’t mind helping. Be a pal and go and convince the little boy in there that he isn’t dead.”
Luke shrugs. “Maybe he is dead. Maybe we all are.”
“You’re not dead,” Tinsel says. “None of you are dead. As I was trying to get to, this is the North Pole Reform School. You’re in Santa’s Village at the North Pole, and you’re all here to learn a very important lesson. But we can’t start without everyone being here.”
Joe lets out a laugh. “Yeah, right.”
Luke rolls his eyes.
“What, Elf Boy? Why’d you have ears like theirs? Why do you have elf ears? Something you want to tell us?” Joe questions Luke.
“No, okay?” Luke frantically tries to smooth his hair over his ears again. “No, I have nothing to tell anyone. Nothing.”
“I think you’re—” Joe starts.
“Please don’t fight,” Tinsel interrupts. “I will explain everything just as soon as I sort the fifth student out. All stay here, please.”
Tinsel walks over and goes into the room Navidad just came out of. We all go over to crowd around the door and look in. Even Duck Lady has got off the sofa and joined us.
The small room looks the same as the one I woke up in. A small window on one wall, a couple of feet of space between that and the bed. In the corner of this room is a boy, cowering on the floor, the sheet from the bed wrapped around himself and clutched to his chest. Tinsel is crouched in front of him, talking gently. We hear her telling him he is safe and nothing bad will happen to him.
He doesn’t look like he believes her.
“Let me help,” Duck Lady says and pushes herself into the room with the boy and the elf.
Even as I think it, I can’t believe I’m taking this seriously. Elves don’t exist. Santa and his village in the North Pole don’t exist. And yet here I am, watching an elf try to cajole a little boy into believing he isn’t dead.
Luke is squashed in the doorway next to me and I can’t help but look up at him. He really does have the same ears as Tinsel and Navidad. He must sense me looking because he glances down and winks at me. I can’t help but smile back.
Now Duck Lady is crouched in front of the boy too, and Tinsel seems to have taken a step back. Maybe Duck Lady has gone to tell him he’s being watched by ducks; no doubt that will make him feel better.
“Don’t crowd around, please.” Tinsel comes over and starts to herd Joe, Luke, and me out of the doorway. “Go and wait on the sofas—we’ll be out in a minute.”
She eventually pushes us back far enough that she can shut the door in our faces.
“Well, that was rude,” Joe says. “I was only trying to help.”
“No, you were all gawking,” Navidad says. “Not everyone copes as well as you apparently have. Never mind; if life gives you lemons, ask the fish for oranges instead.”
“Yeah, well not everyone is sane,” says Luke.
“So, be straight with us, little elf man.” Joe turns to Navidad. “What’s going on here? We in some kind of weird dream or mad scientist’s experiment or what?”
“Nothing like that,” he says. “We’ll explain everything when Tinsel gets back with the boy.”
“Okay, but where are we really?” I ask him. “I mean, I know we’re not in the North Pole, so where are we? Why have you two put so much effort into your elf costumes? We all know you’re not really elves, so why not just stick on a pair of pointy shoes and be done with it?”
“Wrong on both counts,” he says. “We are in the North Pole and we really are elves.”
“That’s impossible,” I say. “Elves don’t exist, and if we were in the North Pole then we would be dead by now. If the temperatures hadn’t killed us then the polar bears would have.”
“We’ll explain everything in a minute,” Navidad says.
“Hey, maybe you can tell me, little elf man,” Joe says to Navidad again, “what’s white and round?”
Luke and I groan simultaneously.
Navidad thinks it over. “A snowball.”
“Wrong,” Joe says happily. “A red cube.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Yeah, well not everyone is sane,” Luke repeats.
The door opens and Tinsel comes out, closely followed by Duck Lady and the dead boy.
She goes to stand next to Navidad again. “Now that we’re all here, the most important thing is to get dressed.”
“The most important thing is for you to tell us what the hell is going on here,” Luke says.
“All in good time,” she says. “Navi has arranged some clothes for you. These will be your outfits for the duration of your stay here. Please take them and go back to your rooms to change. Once you have your clothes on, come back out here and we’ll tell you everything.”
“Why not just tell us now?”
“It’s important for you to be dressed in your outfits first.”
“That makes no sense.”
“Not everything has to make sense at first glance,” Navidad says. “A picture is worth two camels on a roundabout.”
Luke rolls his eyes.
“Now, please come and take your outfits from Navi. The sooner you do so, the sooner we can answer all your questions.”
Duck Lady goes up to take her outfit and the little boy follows.
I glance at Luke and he smiles at me. “It can’t be any worse than thermal long johns, right?”
We go and get our outfits too, and I go back to my room to change.
Luke was wrong, though. It can be worse than thermal long johns, and it is. Much worse.
They’ve given me an elf outfit.
‘North Pole Reform School’ by Jaimie Admans ~ 5 Stars!
I always love it when a new book by Jaimie Admans is released. She is one of those authors that you just know will give you a fun story to escape into for a few hours, without the worry that the storytelling will not be up to scratch. ‘North Pole Reform School’ was yet another one of her great laugh out loud stories with a spunky heroine, some hilarious secondary characters, and as always exemplary storytelling that just bring the story to life.
Mistletoe Bell’s hate for Christmas is warranted ( I mean parents naming their child is close to crossing the line to child abuse), so to follow her journey through the North Pole Reform School was great fun. The storyline was cleverly created as seeing the reason that the five Reform Pupils ruined Christmas for others makes you think more clearly about the two sides of Christmas. Some people love it, some people hate it.
I for one do like Christmas, but my Christmas spirit usually extends from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day so to my surprise I found myself siding with the Reformers on their stance of Christmas. Jaimie Admans is very clever in the way she portrays conflict for teenage characters as whenever I read her books I am immediately transported back to my own teenage years where I remember thinking how unfair teachers were when they wouldn’t listen to my side of the story. This is real teenage conflict, and I love how Jaimie always creates this so realistically in her books, especially in North Pole Reform School. Seeing the Elves treat the reformers as though they are completely to blame for ruining somebody else’s Christmas made me well up with adolescent feelings of unfairness, and really helped me connect to the characters in a way that I have found more difficult in stories where the teenage protagonists act years above their age.
I loved the atmosphere that Jaimie Admans created in this book. It was a unique view of the North Pole, and with the added threat of North Pole Zombies (To avoid spoiling I will just say ‘HILARIOUS’), the North Pole became a more fantastical place and further away from the characters normal world, almost as though they were on a different planet.
I laughed out loud so many times whilst reading this book and cringed with the characters as they were forced to endure the most festive of chores in order to be allowed to return home. The idea of having to eat Mince Pies and Candy Canes for every meal had me wrinkling my nose and craving a salad. Me craving Salad never happens, so this just does the author further credit for using her brilliant wit and storytelling in a way that had me craving healthy food!)
Saving Christmas was the main storyline that evolved in ‘North Pole Reform School’ and it was great to see Mistletoe and Luke work together to save a celebration that they have always disliked. I really adored Luke as a character and loved how he was realistically portrayed as a teenage boy. He was annoyed at the world, felt good after doing something bad, but had a bigger heart than we as readers and the elves ever knew, in his deepest desire to keep his younger sister safe.
Overall this was a fantastic festive read which I would recommend to all. With Jaimie Admans wit and storytelling, this is one that will have you howling with laughter, groaning at the injustice of being forced to be cheerful at Christmas, and sitting on the edge of your seats in suspense to find out whether Christmas will be saved.
Jaimie is a 28-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, drinking tea and watching horror movies. She hates spiders and cheese & onion crisps. She has been writing for years but has never before plucked up the courage to tell people. North Pole Reform School is her fifth novel and she hopes you enjoy it. There are plenty more on the way!
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