This was a hit with me. It draws in elements of Krampus, Santa Claus, Norse mythology, and Christianity in a very good tale. I’d call it dark and humorous fantasy. It is unexpected and entertaining.
Here, Krampus is the son of Loki and Hel while Baldr (aka Santa Claus – yes The Santa) is the son of Odin and Frigg. Krampus and Baldr have been warring for a very long time. In fact, Krampus has been imprisoned by Baldr for several hundred years when he makes his escape in 2012 with revenge on his mind. Yuletide is his season, and he wants it back. Turns out Baldr has a dark past, and maybe he doesn’t deserve to be loved by children the world over. It’s hard to imagine hoping Santa loses.
I can’t really do a better summary than the official one:
“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 earthward, a magical sack that will thrust 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, and 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 to his family, to save his own broken dreams…and help bring the magic of Yule to the impoverished folk of Boone County.”
Fun is Santa’s sack – actually a door into any room the holder wants. Think of a warehouse full of toys, reach into the sack, and pull a toy off the shelf. Supporting characters include an unlucky songwriter, and several surprising minions on both sides.
I have since googled Krampus, and I found out there are Germanic tales originating pre-Christianity about him as a punisher of naughty children during the Yule season. He is described as demonic in appearance.
I picked this book up from the Library because I noticed on a special display so the cover artwork was facing out. This is the cover:
Turns out the author did all the artwork, including several items inside the book – and all the illustrations are very cool and very dark.
I will be looking for The Child Thief, a retelling of Peter Pan.