Monday, July 9, 2012

Unholy Night Review

Seth Grahame-Smith wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the first of the "mash up" books to get popular, which I enjoyed. He later did Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I never read that one but I read  a bit about Unholy Night when it first came out and it reminded me of Christopher Moore's Lamb, of which I am a huge fan. However, this wasn't my favorite. I always know when I'm not really into a book because it takes me so much longer to read it. I just wasn't excited about picking this up.

Unlike Christopher Moore's books, the plot wasn't really funny. He had moments that seemed to verge into Moore's style but it just wasn't enough. The premise is that Balthazar, the infamous Antioch Ghost (a thief), is on the run from King Herod and ends up finding Joseph and Mary in the Bethlehem stable not long after the birth of Jesus (who is never named in the book). As he finds them, Herod orders the death of all boys under the age of two so Balthazar sort of falls into the job of being their protector, quite unwillingly. He, along with the other two "wise men" (also both thieves) attempt to escort Joseph, Mary and Jesus to Egypt where they will be safe from Herod.
There are some clever moments. The Roman leading an army to find the escaped criminals is none other than Pontius Pilate, who later convicts Jesus to die. The plot goes full circle when it explains what happens in the end of the other two wise men. And the epilogue takes place during the great fire of Rome, and explains that Nero definitely wasn't involved at all. 

Anyway, it was just ok. Not as funny as I expected. A love story was sort of thrown in after the halfway mark and there were some facts that were simply wrong. I'm all for revisionist history but some things didn't quite work here. At one point, they are in a town where Abraham was supposedly buried with his wife, Sarah. Grahame-Smith mentions that Sarah was the mother of Issac and Ishmael, however, when I looked up Ishmael, using my kindle's dictionary, it specifically said that Ishmael was Abraham's son with his wife's maid, Hagar. That just seemed like a lazy error to me. There were a couple other little things like that which annoyed me.

I don't really recommend this one, but I included a review below, which seems to like the book more. Here's an excerpt: "If you can get past the notion of a pitchfork-brandishing Joseph (yes, that Joseph) in a manger (yes, that manger), you’ll find “Unholy Night” a surprisingly touching and sweet-natured tale of derring-do, magic and salvation, based very, very, very loosely on events familiar to many from Sunday school or, perhaps, Monty Python’s 'Life of Brian.'"

Washington Post Review

Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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