Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murderer, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood. You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming for your head.... I am coming to take back what is mine, to take back Yuletide....
The author and artist of The Child Thief returns with a modern fabulist tale of Krampus, the Lord of Yule and the dark enemy of Santa Claus.
One Christmas Eve in a small hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, struggling songwriter Jesse Walker witnesses a strange spectacle: seven devilish figures chasing a man in a red suit toward a sleigh and eight reindeer. When the reindeer leap skyward, taking the sleigh, devil men, and Santa into the clouds, screams follow. Moments later, a large sack plummets back to earth, a magical sack that thrusts the down-on-his-luck singer into the clutches of the terrifying Yule Lord, Krampus. But the lines between good and evil become blurred as Jesse's new master reveals many dark secrets about the cherry-cheeked Santa Claus, including how half a millennium ago the jolly old saint imprisoned Krampus and usurped his magic.
Now Santa's time is running short, for the Yule Lord is determined to have his retribution and reclaim Yuletide. If Jesse can survive this ancient feud, he might have the chance to redeem himself in his family's eyes, to save his own broken dreams... and to help bring the magic of Yule to the impoverished folk of Boone County.
©2012 Gerald Brom (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers
Firstly, kudos to Brom for giving us something original and self-contained. Too often are great concepts done to death by the resurgence of the serialized format. Perhaps this is another reason to check out works done by folks whose bread and butter don't all come from one art form.
As a chill atheist, I'm struggling with the thought of future parenthood and whatnot with respect to Santa. I LOVE silly traditions (reasons to party) but generally only take part in the ones that have some kind of virtue (reasons for reasons to party) attached. I don't dig the christian version of Yuletide. The Santa, as presented in this book, is a great example to help articulate how many of us chill atheists view the judeo-christian system.
Well, those of us who took the time to study it anyway.
In that light, this very adult book would make a fantastic children's book with a bit of conversion, and an outstanding aid in the education of a young upstart.
Coincidentally, you "War on Christmas" types may want to steer clear of this one.
Note on narration: Listen to "Start Wearing Purple" by Gogol Bordello and you'll basically find it impossible to un-hear their lead singer whenever Krampus' voice comes up in this book.
A good twist on the story of Santa. Throw in some Norse mythology and you've got one twisted Christmas story.
The performance was great and the story used a lot of myth.
Brom's other book, The Child Thief.
All of it was good.
It was fun.
The story is very well written, and draws on less well known myths. The idea that Santa has an archenemy is fascinating. With that said this book is one of the most violent works of fiction I have ever read in my life. Krampus himself is a twisted being, and the desire to kill Santa is dark. If that doesn't bother you too much then I strongly recommend this book.
Krampus was a pretty good listen right before Christmas. The narrator was great, probably my favorite aspect of the tale. The storyline was decent, only complaint was at times the flow seemed a bit stilted and littered with a character repeatedly repeating f&!* numerous times in a row. Overall definitely worth the credit.
I still haven't finished it but i can't stop listening.
The book is absolutely great.
Such an original story and the narrator nails it.
Do not miss out, listen to this book now.
Audio narration = 5++ Kirby Heyborne does such a phenomenal job narrating this story that I would say that it was probably what I enjoyed most about the book. He brought these characters to life in such a way that I thought there were several different narrators and was surprised to find that this was not the case. I wasn't surprised to find that Heyborne also narrated parts of Cloud Atlas which was also done brilliantly. I look forward to enjoying more audio books with this narrator.
I am almost sad to say that I didn't enjoy Krampus as much as I thought I would. I loved Brom's retelling of Peter Pan in The Child Thief so much that I was anticipating the same kind of dark and disturbing storytelling in this story about a Christmas demon. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't by any means a fun, happy story, it just didn't have that element of creepiness that I expect from this author or that I anticipated with this particular subject matter. How can a story about a Christmas demon known for dragging naughty children off to Hell be anything less than terrifying? Unfortunately, there is a way.
The images of Krampus seem pretty terrifying but for some reason this story presented him as far less than intimidating, and even a little ridiculous at times with all too human-like flaws. Since Krampus is said to carry naughty children off to hell, I thought he would be a bit more imposing with less obvious weaknesses of character. There were definitely some bloody & violent moments involving The Yule Lord but I didn't find him believable as a God or descendant of Loki. Also, the background of the conflict between him and Santa was a little confusing at times, especially near the end. The way this story was resolved was even more baffling. However, an afterword explains a lot of the mythology that the author used to inspire parts of the book and does actually answer some questions.
While several aspects of this book left me less than satisfied, many others I really enjoyed. For example, exploring the origins of the Santa Claus and Krampus mythology and their relationships to the Gods Odin and Loki. I am always fascinated by the way many pagan rituals have been absorbed into Christian celebrations and I enjoyed reading about how that applied to Santa and Krampus' legends. There was also some wicked humor interspersed throughout that I found genuinely entertaining. Those moments when Krampus was attempting to function in today's world was at times amusing and at other times just sad. I would have liked to have seen this explored a bit more.
One of my favorite things about Krampus- The Yule Lord was the main character Jesse. I don't know how many of you watch the TV show "Breaking Bad" but there is also a character named Jesse in that show who consistently makes all the wrong decisions and isn't very likable but somehow has some endearing quality that makes you root for him all the same. Jesse in this novel was much the same and so, in my mind, this is who I saw playing this tale out. This and the incredible audio narration were, in my opinion, this books best qualities. But while I loved Jesse's character, sometimes I felt like what was going on with him overshadowed Krampus' story and I was left wanting more from both.
Overall, Krampus is a story I would recommend, especially for the Christmas/Yule season. There is a lot going on in this story; violence, mayhem, mythology, gods, goats, magic, thugs, domestic violence, murder, and belsnickels. You definitely won't be bored. If you are thinking of reading this, I HIGHLY recommend the audio, it is one of the best narrations I've ever listened to.
Rating - 3
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