Krampus the Yule Lord by Brom
It's the fourth book written by renowned fantasy artist Brom, who I came across a few years ago when his first book Plucker came out, a story I'd describe as "Toy Story meets Guillermo del Toro." It was so unique and imaginative that I later read his next two books as they came out, including the fantastic The Child Thief, an adult retelling of the story of Peter Pan who was not as innocent as Walt Disney would have you believe.
Krampus is not for everyone. My children will not be reading it for many years to come, that is, if they choose to read it at all. After all, they might not grow up with the same literary tastes their father has. But one can hope. That being said, I enjoyed the book immensely.
Krampus is a character from European folklore whom parents would warn their children about around Christmas time--if children were good, they were told that Santa would come and leave presents, if they were bad, Krampus would come instead and put them in his sack and beat them. He's the son of the Norse god Loki, and in Brom's tale, has been imprisoned for the last 500 years because of what he perceives as Santa Clause's betrayal so long ago. Now he's managed to escape and plans to exact his revenge on His Jolliness.
Jesse Walker is a down-on-his-luck estranged father and husband who had aspirations of one day becoming a successful songwriter. While sitting in his truck Christmas Eve, contemplating taking his own life, Jesse witnesses something that will significantly alter the course of his life--Santa Clause being chased and attacked by seven devilish figures. Jesse watches as Santa makes it to his sleigh and begins to take off as several of his pursuers jump on board. As the sleigh begins to climb, he hears screams and cries and then sees a sack fall and land nearby. That sack, which Jesse finds to possess magical powers, drags Jesse into the war that has been going on for centuries, a war between the man whose image appears at every turn each December, and the one who December 25th originally belonged to, the Lord of Yule.
Krampus is really a fantastic story. Brom takes his in-your-face writing style and portrays a character that on one page is ruthless and terrible, and on the next, sympathetic and endearing. He successfully incorporates Norse legends along with the origins of the Christmas tree and other customs now so intrinsically tied to Christmas into a highly entertaining and surprisingly uplifting story.
At times, the language can be rough, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Here's a small taste from the prologue:
Santa Clause, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traiter, 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. For Odin, Loki, and all the fallen gods, for your treachery, for chaining me in this pit for five hundred years. But most of all I am coming to take back what is mine, to take back Yuletide. And with my foot upon your throat. I shall speak your name, your true name, and with death staring back at you, you will no longer be able to hide from your dark deeds, from the faces of all those you betrayed.
I, Krampus, Lord of Yule, son of Hel, bloodline of the great Loki, swear to cut your lying tongue from your mouth, your theiving hands from your wrists, and your jolly head from your neck.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆