It is December id 1937, and thirteen-year-old New Zealander Mannie Candler is preparing for his best Christmas yet. While attending the holiday pageant at Christchurch Cathedral, Mannie wishes for a kiss from the lovely Olivia Murney and a chance to spend time with his aunt Audra. Even the presence of nine-year-old nuisance Clive can't ruin the splendor of the occasion. When Olivia reveals to Mannie she has received a secret letter from Father Christmas, Mannie quietly wonders if Father Christmas is real-unaware that a night of miracles awaits him. Unfortunately, it is only a short time later when Mannie receives devastating news-his aunt Audra has suddenly passed away. As the excitement of the season gives way to mourning and confusion, Mannie seeks refuge at the home of family friends. But when he steps outside the house to retrieve water from the well, Mannie is met by forest gnome Lemuel Greenleaf, who ask him to help hide the mystical reindeer, Trimble. The reindeer disappears without a trace, however, and Mannie and Lemuel begin a journey that eventually leads to the entrance of Very North, dustant palace buried in snow and steeped in mystery.