Thursday, December 13, 2012

Unholy Night

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

I should start off by saying that I found both of Seth Grahame-Smith's previous books to be surprisingly well written. Before I read them I was expecting to enjoy them, but wasn't expecting them to be as intelligent and literary as they both were. When I mention Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to people who haven't read them, they tend to assume I'm talking about amateurish books written as some sort of literary prank. But they're far from that. Think I'm kidding? Read'em.

Unholy Night is one more example of why people should take Seth Grahame-Smith seriously as an author. He takes an idea or story that is generally well known, and then springboards off of it and ends up with a book that you simply have to read to appreciate. This time around it's the story of the three wise men of the nativity that are the genesis.

Balthazar is a thief with a grudge against the Roman Empire. After being caught and thrown into Herod's prison, where he meets up with two other prisoners, Balthazar pulls off a daring escape for the three. After they flee Jerusalem, they decide to hide out for the night in a stable in Bethlehem where the meet up with a young couple and their newborn child. Balthazar has no desire to get caught up in their lives, but the next day, as he and his two companions are trying to slip out of Bethlehem they're drawn back by the screams of the mothers whose babies are being killed by Herod's men. Balthazar decides to help the new family escape to Egypt, where they should be safe until the disease-ridden Herod finally dies.

Unholy Night is a great book. This time around Grahame-Smith doesn't rely on the writings of any other author for the frame of his story. This time there were only a couple of biblical verses at his disposal. But he is very successful in using them as the origins for a story that is unique, violent, and at the same time, respectful to the story that plays such an important role for so many peoples' beliefs.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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