Skip to main content

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

Unholy Night

It's the nativity, but not as we know it.


As you may well expect from the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, this is a rather different version of the Christmas story. Instead of the three wise men we get three thieves. Yep, thieves. Not kings or holy men or even noble men, but lowdown dirty thieves. Fabulous. The trio meet up in a dungeon, awaiting execution. It is a complete accident that they become mixed up with Mary, Joseph, and the little baby Jesus.

The brains behind the escape plan is Balthazar, or the notorious Antioch Ghost, a nickname in which he takes some pride. He's been the scourge of the rich for years, stealing whatever and wherever he wanted, then vanishing without trace. The story opens with a brilliant chase sequence as Balthazar is pursued across the desert by 'a cloud of indeterminate wrath'. He can't tell exactly how many soldiers are after him, but it is a lot. Too many even for an escape artist of his calibre. And so he ends up in the presence of Herod.

Herod is a repulsive figure, diseased in body and mind. Taunted by the prophecy of the King of the Jews he enlists his Roman overlords in the campaign against a newborn child. Balthazar's brief encounter with Herod is plenty enough for him to know that if Herod is against it, it is something worth saving. Fate (or divine will) gives him a good old shove towards that stable. A violent and bloody campaign for freedom begins. The book has all the gore and fight scenes you could wish for, and some of it is brutal. There are also some lovely little nods to the traditional story, such as why the thieves have frankincense and myrhh with them.

It's about Balthazar really though. As his past is revealed it becomes clear that he is anything but a man without morals. He is a victim of circumstance, whose own life has been destroyed by casual brutality. His dedication to revenge has shaped his whole existence. On the surface this is a bloody, fast and furious, funny and irreverent story. But, you know what, it is also a story of redemption and the triumph of good over evil. Balthazar is determined that the young family he stumbles across will survive. In the struggle to save these three individuals his inner goodness and decency is drawn out, and he emerges a better and happier man. It's interesting to me that despite the all the changes, the spirit of the story is still one of hope. It's enough to warm the cockles of even this atheist's heart.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Interview With The Vampire: Claudia's Story by Anne Rice and Ashley Marie Witter

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone... Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?
This book illustrates how special a thing it is to have people send you books out of the blue; it's a privilege and a pleasure. I wouldn't have known about this book, let alone read and loved it, if it hadn't landed in my letterbox. I'm …

Reading Resolutions

Happy New Year!
That's 2015 done and dusted, here's to 2016 and let's hope it's filled with love and laughter, friends and fun, books and cake. And really, that's about as far as my resolutions go but I do have a few projects in mind for the coming year and beyond.

This year there are two anniversaries I want to celebrate. The first is the two hundredth anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birth on 21st April.
Jane Eyre is one of my most favourite stories of all and I've lost count of the number of times I've read it over the years. I'll be re-reading it yet again come April, but before then I plan to read the other three novels Charlotte wrote starting with Shirley this month. I'm quite keen to read the new Claire Harman biography of Charlotte Bronte too at some point.

The other anniversary is that of Shakespeare's death 400 years ago on 23rd April. I've finally admitted to myself that reading the same half dozen plays over and over isn'…