Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

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"Brom is that rare breed: a person who is skilled in more than one area of artistic expression. Here's hoping that he will continue to share his dark and often beautiful dreams with us for many years to come." Christopher Paolini, New York Times bestselling author of Eragon

Acclaimed author and artist Brom raised eyebrows and pulse rates with The Child Thief, his grim, brilliantly audacious, gorgeously illustrated reimagining of the Peter Pan legend. So what does this innovative fantasist do for an encore? He tinkers darkly with the beloved mythology of Santa Claus. Set in Appalachia, Krampus the Yule Lord is a twisted fairytale about a failed West Virginia songwriter who gets ensnared on Christmas Eve in an eternal war between a not-so-saintly Saint Nick and his dark enemy Krampus, aka Black Peter, an ancient trickster demon. Krampus the Yule Lord is Gregory Maguire (Wicked) meets Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) in the realm of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, as Clive Barker (Mr. B. Gone) works his dark sorcery from the shadows. Once again featuring Brom’s chillingly beautiful artwork throughout, Krampus the Yule Lord is a feast of wonder straight from the kitchen of Sweeney Todd.

“Your dreams are your spirit, your soul and without them your are dead. You must guard your dreams always. Always. Lest someone steal them away from you. I know what it is to have your dreams stolen. I know what it is to be dead. Guard your dreams. Always guard your dreams.”

Brom is basically awesome - I read his reimagined version of Peter Pan last year in 'The Child Theif', and now found out he penned the Christmas lore dark drama/horror story Krampus. His prose is delectable. Bring on the legends!

I don't know much about Christmas lore other than when I treated myself to the theatre to see Krampus when it was released during December. I'd seen the book pop up among friends and a horror reading group in my Goodreads feed for awhile before and after the movies release. To my delight, the movie was great fun and has turned into one of my top favorite for Christmas themed flicks to bring in the favorite season. While the movie was gifted with colorful humor, the book kept to its dark roots, although it snuck in some humor mainly in the forms of situational irony and the frustrated yule Lord screwing things up when he tries to get ahead.

The point of view is mainly through a lead who encounters Krampus and then must use his resources to get back at a mini kingpin in his town who works with the local corrupted police force. Sometimes you have to side with the bad to battle the bad. Throw in some Christmas themed weapons like the magical santa sack that has more than toys at its bottom, and you get some Christmas themed fun on the morbid side. Santa may be a legend, and his henchmen of reindeers and other jolly souls isn't anything to laugh at, while poor Krampus is forced to bring along him limited resources of reluctant and semi self-hating slaved companions.

Krampus isn't the jolly old red-suited man who wants you to sit on his lap (at least not in an innocent way...), but you can't help but like him. He grew on me with his humor and his sense of honor of sorts. His motivations weren't wholly unpure, at least in his mind, and he does show compassion where its warranted. A dimensional villain who isn't actually a villain anymore, he's a sympathetic enough character who lets his wickedness reign in a couple of demented scenes.

There's mucho pagan legend and lore that predates the Santa legend, some of it passed down and some of it probably invented for the tale. On one hand dark and on the other hand meant to be a playful story that proudly shows its different. Jesse as the main is likeable but drifting through the book mainly for a human POV was a small surprise.

I did like the twist with music at the end and how it plays with the creativity of the human heart. I think the theme is meant to keep the magic of love, creation, life and celebration alive. Krampus was shocked to find so many had turned away from the wonders of the world because they only cared about the luring gods of the pixels now - television sets, x-boxes, computers and phones. Pretty discouraging when even he gives up on the human race, but I dug the theme the author put in.

   Book Quotes:

“The truth is there is no Devil making you torture, rape, murder, and sodomize one another, or making you destroy the very land that feeds you. There is only you.”


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