The Man in the Cinder Clouds Review (Santa Clause!)

Who could resist a book written by an elf about the origins of Santa Clause? I couldn’t, and I’m a little past (okay, way past) the target audience’s age. The book was a little like the Princess Bride, a story inside a story. In this case, I’d say nested Christmas presents, and altogether a very nice package with plenty of excitement in the unwrapping.
Here’s the description: A young boy and his scientist father make an incredible discovery at the North Pole—an ancient book embedded deep within an ice core. Even more incredible is the story the book tells: the long-lost history of Santa Claus you never knew…and will never forget. This origins-of-Santa story is a great holiday read for the whole family. Its mix of action, humor, and Christmas spirit keeps younger readers turning the pages, but The Man in the Cinder Clouds is not just a kids’ Christmas book. This story-within-a-story reveals the origins of our most familiar Christmas traditions: from Christmas trees, stockings, and lumps of coal to jingle bells, the North Pole, and flying reindeer. Highly original and thoroughly entertaining, The Man in the Cinder Clouds will show you how Kris Kringle came to be known as Santa Claus. It wasn’t easy.

Icy cool concept. Too bad I had to fly back home before I finished reading to my sister’s grandchildren. We went through 8 chapters while driving around seeing Christmas displays. Every time we got back in the car, they wanted more. I was sad they never got to enjoy some very funny stuff about the animals pulling the sleigh, not the ones you think. Rick’s dialogue was often funny, an important skill to keep kids and teens entertained. Adults too.

There were also some tense moments for Kris Kringle along the way to proving to the Elfs that there was some goodness in mankind. Explaining how two children’s lives were in danger would spoil the story, so just make sure not to leave off at those places right before bedtime if reading to very young children. Yes, you should read it to very young children. I read Tolkien to my kindergarten age son when he balked at learning to read, and he became a voracious reader. Try this book on your young ones if you don’t believe me.

If you’re still not convinced, but have ever seen your children act selfish or mean, you won’t find a better way to convince them to mend their ways without them knowing they’re being taught. They’ll also gain a new appreciation for the necessities of life like a warm home, food, clothing, and health. You’ll also find out how Santa’s hair turned white, how he fits all those toys into one bag, and a sleighful of other neat surprises. Overall, it was a very inventive story.

I was surprised to find how well written the book was until I remembered Rick’s writing background. And then Susan Quinn, author of the awesome YA Open Minds, told me Rick is in her Indelibles group, which may partly explain the very clean copy. The book isn’t perfect. As a writer I would have given it 4.5 stars, but for kids and teens it’s a definite 5 star. Your children will want to read it every year, eventually to their own kids. Go buy it now.

The Man in the Cinder Clouds is available at: (print and Kindle) (print and Nook)

Here’s Rick’s picture. If you’d like to read the interview I did with Rick last month, click here.
Rick Daley has been writing professionally for over 15 years. His experience includes marketing copy for print and web, press releases, business proposals, training and technical manuals, and whitepapers. His essays, ranging from family life during the holidays to his first skydiving experience, have been featured in The Columbus Dispatch.

An experienced public speaker with a background in music and theater, Rick has also authored and delivered numerous training seminars and workshops.

Rick lives in Lewis Center, Ohio with his wife and two sons (and a neurotic schnauzer).

Twitter: rjdaley101071
If you ask him nicely, Rick can arrange to autograph your book, even the kindle version!
One final note: I got Rafflecopter! At last, the cool contest management tool opened to the public, so I invite you to click the Chocolate and Books tab at the top of my blog and enter the contest for the Jan 11th drawing, whether or not you’re already a follower.
Charlotte Abel, author of Enchanted (you can see it in my previous post) won my last drawing, and I just mailed her my 13 books in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series. I offered her my whole collection if she skipped the chocolate so I could mail the books media rate, and she made the supreme sacrifice for her grandson. I’m not that selfless.
You could win next! May your darkest chocolate fantasy come true!

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Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. Thanks Sheryl! I hope some of your readers have the chance to read the story before Christmas.

    If anyone is interested in a signed copy, please email me direct at rjdaley101071 (at) gmail (dot) com rather than buy through Amazon or B&N.

    Merry Christmas!!!

  2. Ooh this sounds like an incredible read. 🙂

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    All content is copyrighted and may not be used in any form without proper credit and links. For purposes other than charity or education, printed materials require prior written consent. Disclaimer: Most books were provided free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.