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A psychological portrait intertwining fantasy and reality


Jan De Leeuw

‘Nightland’ is a thrilling fantasy in which a boy’s search for his father takes pride of place. In the powerful opening passage, we find Niel freezing to death on an ice-covered lake, but he manages to save himself in the nick of time. The story takes place in Catatonia, a divided land ruled by a merciless and cruel queen. Niel is convinced that his father, who disappeared when he was a young child, is in Catatonia. It quickly becomes clear that he is predestined to bring about enormous change in Catatonia, but enemies and traitors are lurking everywhere.

A promising talent, with an unusual and surprising book
Gouden Uil Young Reader's Prize jury

After a couple of chapters, it dawns on the reader that Catatonia is a dream world in which Niel has lived since he fell into a coma. Fantasy and reality are combined in a mesmerizing fashion. Tension is built up and maintained throughout the book with skill and expertise, the plot remains exciting from the first page to the last, and there are a number of clever surprises built into the narrative. The psychology of each character is presented in a plausible manner. ‘Nightland’ is an exhilarating and layered literary work, which does not reveal all its secrets in a single reading.

An intriguing book, and a fascinating storyteller
De Leeswelp