Title: North Pole Reform School
Author: Jaimie Admans
Date of Publication: November 6, 2013
Genre: YA rom-com, fantasy
Mistletoe Bell hates Christmas. So would you if you had a name like hers. Her Christmas-mad parents make the festive season last all year, and with another Christmas looming, Mis doesn’t think she can take any more. After her carelessness causes an accident at school, it seems like things can’t get any worse.
Then she wakes up to find The Ghost of Christmases Ruined in her bedroom.
She is taken to the North Pole, to a reform school run by elves determined to make her love Christmas. Stuck in a misfit group of fellow Christmas-haters with a motley crew of the weird and even weirder, watched over by elves day and night, she doesn’t expect to meet cute and funny Luke, who is hiding a vulnerable side beneath his sarcastic exterior. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with him.
But all is not as it should be at the North Pole. A certain Mr Claus is making the elves’ lives a misery, and pretty soon Mistletoe and Luke are doing more than just learning to like Christmas.
A YA romantic comedy in which Santa is the bad guy, teaching reindeer to fly is on the curriculum, and zombies have a fondness for Christmas music.
Suitable for older teens and upwards due to bad language.
“So are we really in the North Pole?” Hugo asks.
“I thought we’d established that,” Navi says.
“Wait, if we’re really in the North Pole, are there…” Emily pauses. “Are there polar bears here?”
Tinsel laughs. “It’s not the polar bears you have to watch out for around here, it’s the zombies. The weather outside Santa’s snow globe is uninhabitable to anything living. Hence, the zombies.”
“Wait…,” Luke starts. “This is a joke, right? You are winding us up?”
“Elves can’t tell lies,” Tinsel reminds him. “It’s quite true. There may be the odd polar bear or two outside, yes, but there are definitely zombies. They come up here to live because humans are so unaccepting of them in your world. Don’t worry though. They can’t come inside the snow globe, so as long as you’re in here, you’re safe.”
“What about the polar bears?” Emily asks. “Can they come inside?”
“Only if they’re very clever,” Navidad jokes.
“Oh nooo,” Emily squeals. “I hate polar bears.”
“Seriously? You’re worried about polar bears when they’re telling us there are zombies around?” Luke looks at her incredulously.
“I’m not scared of zombies,” Emily tells him. “I know what to do about them. I told you, I’ve been taking a class. Polar bears are creepy though.”
“Don’t the bears eat the zombies?” Hugo asks.
“The zombies have learnt not to go near the polar bears. Even zombies can be smart when they watch others getting their heads bitten off.”
“Eurgh,” Emily says.
“Wait, is everyone just accepting this? We’re in a giant snow globe surrounded by zombies and nobody thinks this is even slightly unusual?” I ask.
“I don’t know of any other explanation,” Hugo says.
“But zombies don’t exist,” I say. “They’re just made up for horror movies.”
“But elves and the North Pole don’t really exist either,” Emily says. “And yet we’re looking at them.”
“I still think someone drugged my drink when I wasn’t looking,” Joe says.
“Do the zombies try to get in?” Hugo asks.
“Generally no, they’re quite calm zombies. I think the sound of our bells soothes them. They occasionally get a bee in their bonnet about something and start hurling themselves at the glass, but I assure you all it’s completely shatterproof.”
“Well, that’s comforting,” I mutter.
“Where is this glass?” Luke asks. “Can we see it? Because I find it really difficult to believe that you all live inside a snow globe.”
“It’s just a giant glass dome. We thought you might prefer to think of it as a snow globe.”
“As opposed to what? Prison walls?”
“Now, don’t be like that, Mr Wyatt. We’ll show you everything, if you could all stop arguing for five minutes.”
“Does it ever stop snowing?” Hugo asks as he looks up at the sky.
“Not at this time of year. It’s the North Pole,” Tinsel says.
“And we’re inside a snow globe. Duh,” Joe adds.
Everyone is quiet as we follow the elves down the street. Even I have to admit it’s very pretty here. Snow, elves, sparkling lights, even the low sound of bells isn’t bothering me as much as I thought it would.
“Don’t worry, you’ll find your way around in no time. It’s a very small village. And the rest of the elves are always friendly, so don’t be scared to ask anyone for directions.”
“Don’t you have grumpy elves? How come the elves are always friendly?”
“Because they’re happy, Hugo. You might not think so, but Christmas makes people happy and we elves have Christmas cheer all year round.”
I fight the urge to make puking noises.
“That’s where the stables are.” Tinsel points out a little path on our left. “We love the reindeer, but we do have to house them a little bit further away than we’d like because they’re smelly creatures, really.”
“Smellier than you’d think,” Navi jokes. “People hear ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ and think how great Rudolph is and how cute his red nose is, but they don’t stop to think about how smelly his stable gets. The others too. I don’t know what we feed Comet and Blitzen, but personally I think we should stop.”
Emily laughs at that.
“And this is the factory where all the toys are made. Things are always busy in there as we have such a big order on such a close deadline. The elves work hard, but they always seem to be in a panic the closer it gets to Christmas. We’ve never failed an order yet and we don’t intend to start now.”
Walking further on, Tinsel points out the post office. They have a whole building and a team of elves dedicated to sorting and sending mail.
“And that building over there is the N and N headquarters.”
“What’s N and N?” Luke asks and receives a look like he’s the stupidest person in the world from Tinsel.
“Naughty and Nice. That’s where they read the case files and divide the list into naughty and nice children,” she tells us.
“And check it twice,” Navi adds.
“What happens to the naughty ones?” I ask.
“Lump of coal in the stocking, obviously. Although to be honest, this Santa is being much harsher this year. We are finding ourselves with more naughty children than ever before.”
“Which makes the whole N and N Intelligence system, which we work so hard to run, completely invalid. We keep trying to have words with him, but this Santa is nothing if not stubborn,” Tinsel says. “And that there is the—”
“Wait,” Luke interrupts. “Twice now you’ve said ‘this Santa’. Is Santa not the same all the time? Does he change?”
“You will learn, dear boy, you will learn,” Navi tells him cryptically.
“The two buildings to our right here, one is the packaging factory because the toys don’t package themselves, you know. The other building is top secret.”
“Can we go in?” Hugo asks.
“Not yet. Once you have been here a while you will be able to watch the training, but it is simply not viable for any of you to participate. It’s a system that requires elves with speed and great talent.”
“What is it?”
“It’s the black-ops.” Despite Tinsel casting him a look, Navi continues, “We may as well tell them, my love, they’re going to find out anyway.”
She huffs and looks away.
“They’re a secret team,” Navi says. “Like ninjas, but better. They spend all year training for just one night—Christmas Eve. They are the black-ops elf team for chimney-related emergencies.”
“What the hell is a chimney-related emergency?” Luke asks.
I can’t help giggling. “Do you mean if Santa gets stuck in a chimney?”
“Does he get stuck in a lot of chimneys?” I can’t hide the laughter that comes out at the very thought.
“It depends on how many cookies and glasses of milk he consumes on the run. We elves might have a certain amount of magic, but we can’t speed up his digestion, unfortunately.”
Everyone giggles except for Emily.
“Digestion is no laughing matter,” she says disapprovingly. Then she starts looking around like
she’s freaked out. “Did you hear a quack?”
That only serves to make the rest of us laugh even more.
About Jaimie Admans:
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. Afterlife Academy is her third novel and she hopes you enjoy it. There are plenty more on the way!
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