Fired from his longtime job as captain of the Coal Patrol, two-foot-three-inch, 1,300-year-old elf Gumdrop Coal is angry. He's one of Santa's original elves, inspired by the fat man's vision to bring joy to children on that one special day each year. But somewhere along the way, things went sour for Gumdrop. Maybe it was delivering one too many lumps of coal for the Naughty List. Maybe it's the conspiracy against Christmas that he's starting to sense down every chimney.
Either way, North Pole disillusionment is nothing new: Some elves brood with a bottle of nog, trying to forget their own wish list. Some get better. Some get bitter. Gumdrop Coal wants revenge. Justice is the only thing he knows, and so he decides to give a serious wakeup call to parents who can't keep their vile offspring from landing on the Naughty List. But when one parent winds up dead, his eye shot out with a Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model BB gun, Gumdrop Coal must learn who framed him and why. Along the way he'll escape the life-sucking plants of the Mistletoe Forest, battle the infamous Tannenbomb Giant, and survive a close encounter with 12 very angry drummers and their violent friends. The horrible truth lurking behind the gingerbread doors of Kringle Town could spell the end of Christmas - and of the fat man himself. Holly Jolly!
©2010 Ken Harmon (P)2010 Tantor
I've been an Audible subscriber for more than 9 years, but I've only felt compelled to write a review a handful of times. This is one of those times.
This book is "laugh-out-loud" funny. The narrator does a great job of pulling off the "noir" style. I loved meeting my favorite holiday characters in a brand new way. The overall message was positive and uplifting, without being sappy.
One of my new favorite holiday reads (up there with Hogfather by Terry Pratchett).
I bought this title yesterday evening; listened to it as soon as it finished the download. And it is now my favorite Christmas Listen ... to be enjoyed year after year. It has the best of the Noir style, with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, valiantly satirizing the genre and calling on many Christmas favorite tales along the way. Reminiscent of a quality B-movie, I listened to this book like I watch the B&W version of It's A Wonderful Life (and avoid the colorized version) -- enjoying it and anticipating the next line, sometimes even knowing what it would be but not caring that I already knew.
I can't tell you my favorite parts of the book as that would give away too much. However, if you like the noir style, then you will probably enjoy this book.
But, be aware, this is not really a family/children's story even if it is about elves and Santa and has characters with silly names like Charles Candy Cane or Tannenbomb.
The narrator does an excellent job, in my opinion.
This was an extremely fun, laugh-out-loud, cracker of a story. Brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed. The actor/narrator’s performance was so perfectly shaped and constructed; Mr. Heller, an award-winning voice actor, brought these saucy and magnificent characters to full realization through his perfectly-suited Noir style.
Almost every line has some quirky reference or wink/nod based on classic Christmas stories, movies and animated TV specials and spins them in a unique, razor-witted, and extremely intelligent way. For most of this book, I found myself moving from grin, to laugh, to shock, to chortle, to chuckle, and back again.
The structure of the book does seem to spin out of control near the end, only to wrap up in a somewhat unnecessary and overtly-religious way. This bothered me until I realized the source from which the author drew his conclusion was also one of those animated classics which, by today’s “standards,” comes across as also quite overtly “religious.” Once I realized who this character was, it lessened my aversion to the seemingly forced message or moral that it presented. I don’t usually have an aversion to books that have a strong Moral, if that Moral emerges or develops naturally from the characters, or plot, or style of writing. Given the tone of 9/10ths of this book, however, the conclusion seemed entirely out of character from the rest of the book. It felt forced and manipulated, and did slightly spoil the overall experience of the otherwise brilliant world and language the author created.
The bottom line is: I have in fact, recommended this book to several people for the incredibly sharp and smartly funny turns of phrase and stylistic brilliance in the writing. Despite the structural problems and awkward way it comes to its conclusion, I still think this is a wonderful holiday tale.
Writer-book addict with 26 years in central Mexico. Love Kindle Love Audible books Esp by and read by C. Pinkola Estes & Luis Urrea-WOW
Mixed feelings, mixed review. This "Dark" story of Christmas certainly presents a moral fit for the season, and the concept is cute and clever and well thought out -- at first....but I tired quickly of the appearances of characters from every other holiday tale....from Ralphie of A Christmas Story fame, who needed to lend his BB gun -- to the eye that was shot out to the "not so tiny tim" to misfit toys who had come from the island looking for a home to bits and pieces of lyrics from many holiday songs -- Little Nell's stocking and you'd better not pout, and even appearances by the "kid with the blanket with the moral of the story...and that's about it from the peanut gallery."
It wore thin after a while, especially with a dick tracy/dragnet theme, feeling overlaying the whole thing. I'm thinking maybe there was a bit of ADD going on...or maybe I needed a bit.
So, I'd probably actually give it a 2.5 just for creativity
If you like noir, dark comedy, or the lampooning of hackneyed cultural associations with Christmas, this is a very unique and enjoyable Christmas time book. (Nothing in it makes fun of the religious components of Christmas, only the cliches, tv & music specials, and commercialized traditions.) Its got to be in or around the Christmas season and you have to be the person that can get into something narrated by an elf in a Sam Spade style. If so you will have a fun time with this one. I don't know anything else like it. Great parody if you like this style.
I loved the 40s style delivery of the narrator. It was like I could turn a corner and find Humphrey Bogart at the North Pole.
There was no holding back on dragging every kid's story and fairy tale out to be smashed into tinsel coated shards of glass. I will never look at Grumpy or candy canes the same way.All the characters and the North Pole itself were packed with familiar memories that I invested in some of the characters quickly.
Oddly, not the hero. But Johnny had so many other great ones, I didn't mind. The way he portrayed the bond of friendship (bromance?) between Gumdrop and his best pal, made it real in a world of fantasy.
The noir style had me at hello, but half-way through the book I was exhausted from the mental work it takes to comprehend that kind of lingo. All the references to other films, books, and fairy tales connected me to so many parts of my life, I knew I had to finish the book. Gumdrop Coal is a bit dark and scary for a bit too long. There were a few twists too many and I had to go back a couple times just to understand who was or wasn't on the right side.
I love satirical books about common themes, as long as they are balanced. "The Fat Man" goes way too far on two counts. First, the author stretches the story over the top, pulling in everything from Cinderella to Citizen Kane. Sticking with the Santa theme should have been enough, but, since he seemed to need to write something "cute" practically every line, he brought in fantasies that had nothing to do with Santa. I eventually thought, "Come on! Aren't elves, reindeer, chimneys, etc. enough!"
Second, he brought up Christianity far too often for my taste. While I wouldn't mind a little mention now and then, he kept pushing how Santa was a "reminder" of "the child who brought love to the world." I don't believe he ever referred to Jesus by name, but it was pretty clear who he was talking about. Now I'm not a Santa expert, but I thought Santa was based on the story of St. Nicholas, who gave gifts to the poor, as well as other mythologies (including pagan ones). Not everyone who likes Christmas is a Christian; I personally celebrate the themes of love, caring and giving. I got so sick of the preaching that I quit listening to the book a little over half way through.
The narrator was fine, though he read a little too fast sometimes. I'd miss certain oblique references because of that speed and had to back up to catch them. Of course, there were so many references, oblique and otherwise, that at a certain point I just stopped and let the story move along until I got sick of the whole thing.
While I loved the concept of the book, the execution was pretty poor.
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