Although “Krampus: The Yule Lord” by Brom takes place during the Christmas season, the story will scare and fascinate readers at any time of year. Just be sure to have the hot chocolate at the ready to get into the mood.
It’s Christmas, and Jesse, the protagonist, is contemplating suicide because of his inability to provide for his wife and daughter. In fact, they are living with the crooked chief of police, and Jesse feels he has no prospects and no one.
When Santa comes running down the street of his mobile home community followed by what appear to be demonic creatures, Jesse is stunned. Then, when a mysterious bag drops from the skies into his tiny trailer, Jesse feels that his life might just be changing. He is able to bring out of the magical bag the very popular doll his daughter had asked for as a Christmas gift.
However, although Jesse’s life does change, it’s not in the way he was hoping. He is caught in a five-hundred-year-old war between Krampus, the Yule King, and Santa Claus, formerly known as Baldr, son of Odin (at least in this story).
In good literature, the bad guys are not all bad, and the good guys are not all good. It’s actually hard to know exactly who the bad guys and the good guys are in this story. Yes, Santa is the kind, generous (and extremely well built!) guy who gives gifts to all (from the sack he stole from Krampus).
Krampus, in spite of his horns, fangs and red eyes, is the lord of the earth. It is he who brings forth life, and it is to honor him that pagans brought greenery into their homes during the time of the winter solstice. Krampus is greatly angered to find that now the greenery is brought in not to honor him, but to honor Santa Claus.
While the immortals (although they can be killed, they also can live for thousands of years) fight, Jesse is trying to rescue his wife and child from the clutches of humans who are very evil indeed (with no redeeming qualities).
The book is not just a good, solid, horror book ala Dean Koontz. It’s a thoughtful story that makes the reader consider what makes a being good or evil. The Santa in the book leaves an ancient wolf deity to die without much thought, yet the Krampus rescues the same wolf at much cost.
It’s a rollicking, non-stop, action-filled, violent and yet touching story. It’s fun, and you’ll want to read it in one sitting. It’s also a very large book. Wider than many books and much more solid in feel, it also includes several lovely color illustrations of the main characters and black and white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.
The book is also quite thoughtful — is God really a “she,” and would angels kill in “her” name? If there is the one God, can there also be other gods? Or is it all just one delicious fantasy?
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Harper Voyager, for review purposes.
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