- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Harper Voyager; 1st edition (October 30, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006209565X
- ISBN-13: 978-0062095657
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 273 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Krampus: The Yule Lord Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 30, 2012
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At first glance, this novel’s premise is a bit of a stretch. Krampus, child of Loki and spirit of Yule, is imprisoned by Santa Claus. There’s no love lost between the two. Krampus hates Santa for the betrayal that led to his imprisonment, while Santa Claus believes that Krampus is a relic, far past his time. Enter the hapless Jesse, who witnesses a fight between Krampus’ followers (the belsnickels) and Santa as he’s cursing himself for failing to get his daughter what she wanted for Christmas. His wife has already left him, and he’s sinking into despair. Then he finds Santa’s sack in his bedroom, where it fell through the roof of his trailer. Yes, he gets his daughter what she wanted. Then his wife accuses him of stealing it, the belsnickels track him down, and we get to the meat of the plot: Krampus’ revenge on Santa, which will reveal Santa’s true history and maybe give Jesse hope. This is a surprisingly good story, told with entertaining style and some unexpectedly sympathetic characters, and the illustrations are a treat. --Regina Schroeder
“The creator of The Child Thief, is back — and this time he’s taking on the Christmas Devil. Are you ready for a studly, Nordic Santa Claus, and his scary/sexy wife?” (Charlie Jane Anders, io9.com)
“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, bestelling author of Eragon on KRAMPUS)
“This illustrated horror novel by acclaimed gothic fantasy artist, illustrator, and novelist Brom (The Child Thief) is perfect for anyone who disdains a cozy, sentimental holiday story.” (Library Journal)
“Terrific. A wild ride--the idea sounded like a stretch and I’m not sure how many guys could have really pulled it off, but Brom sure has. I loved it. It hooked me and I couldn’t put it down. Plus, the illustrations are amazing.” (Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy on KRAMPUS)
“Filled with action, fans will wonder whether Jesse joined the wrong side as increasingly it appears to him that Santa is evil. Fans will relish the Yule Lord ‘is coming to town.’” (SFRevu on KRAMPUS)
“[A] rollicking, non-stop, action-filled, violent and yet touching story.” (Examiner.com on KRAMPUS)
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Other things are included here, too - like weaving the Dutch Christmas traditions (Santa's residence in Spain and even the varying number of the Belsnickels). I really loved the Belsnickels and their relationship - almost vampirelike - to Krampus here. And then to put so much of the action in Boone County in the Appalachian Mountains was just really terrific. All of these elements and more combined to make a truly wonderful read!
I have both the Audible and Kindle version. The Kindle includes pictures, which is exciting, but the Audible version by far won out for me due to the impressive performance of the narrator. His range really made me prefer to just listen -despite my curiosity over the pictures that I was missing. The plot is certainly exciting and action-packed, but more than that, it was the terrific characters that made this so much fun. I was utterly charmed by the "great and terrible" Yule Lord and Jesse's character was just great, too! I am really excited that I already own Brom's rendition of Peter Pan and am really excited to check out more audiobooks by this narrator! Even though this was over sixteen hours long, I just didn't want it to end!!
Though the legend of Krampus cuts across different cultures and takes many forms as a result, Brom selects a decidedly Norse leaning interpretation of the horned creature. Those familiar with Norse mythology will encounter many familiar personas (some directly and others by reference): there’s Odin, Loki, Hel, Geri, Freki, Huginn, Muninn, and others. Krampus’s acolytes are referred to as Belsnickels, which is not Norse in origin but German, brought over by early immigrants to America from that country. Then there’s the Christian influence, the followers of which instantly see Krampus as none other than Satan himself. Krampus is a seven foot tall demon with curved horns sprouting from his head, so can’t really blame them.
The story of Krampus is this: Santa Claus imprisoned Krampus hundreds of years ago and, as a result, Yule and its traditions have been forgotten. Krampus himself is wasted away, a sad shadow of his former self. But he still yearns to return to the world to spread his own particular form of holiday cheer. His Belsnickels, or servants, carry out his will, slowly setting the stage for the Yule Lord’s escape and the fruition of Krampus’s dream: to kill Santa Claus and to then remind the world that Krampus was here first.
While there are elements of horror in Krampus, this is not solely a horror novel. There are some gruesome deaths, but there are also many fantastical elements, such as Santa’s flying sled, reindeer, and his sack, which he stole from Krampus long ago and which can produce nearly anything one desires as long as the user is of Loki’s bloodline.
What struck me the most about Krampus is the characters. Jesse is a loser looking for his way in life while trying to win back his estranged wife and daughter (very cliché, I know, but he kind of grows on you). Some of the baddies, including the General and Chief Dillard, are mostly just bad with no motive other than that. But the Belsnickels and Krampus himself felt very real to me. Each Belsnickel was “recruited” at different times and under different circumstances. One is near a hundred years old (Belsnickels do not age since they have the blood of Krampus flowing through their veins) and another, Isabel, a girl of about twenty, has been that age for going on forty years. Wipi, Nipi, and Makwa want nothing more than to serve their lord. Vernon would prefer the Yule Lord keel over and die; he does little to hide these feelings, too, which presented some laugh out loud moments for me. Isabel, Krampus’s “little lion,” is the little sister archetype. She left behind a newborn child in her previous life and she longs to return to that life to undo some mistakes she made, but she’s also terrified of facing those failures and of being rejected by her now grown child. Even Krampus, who is both good and terrible, has his own inner struggles as he tries to cope with the fact that the world has moved on without him. It’s not until the end that Krampus rediscovers himself entirely:
"Jesse had never seen this side of the Yule Lord, and it occurred to him that he was seeing the real Krampus, the Krampus of ancient times, the great and wild Yule spirit that galvanized mankind to brave the darkest primeval nights, kindled their will to survive the trials of the harshest winters. He could almost see the horned beast dancing this very jig within the communal houses of primitive man. Jesse saw the way the people fed on Krampus’s spirit, and how, in turn, Krampus fed on theirs. And understood now just why those shoes, with their small tribute of candies, meant so much to the Yule Lord. That what Krampus needed more than anything was a flock to shepherd, to protect and inspire."
Krampus is as much a story about the traditions of Christmas and Yule as it is a tale of discovery. Krampus steals the show in many scenes, but the supporting characters have stories of their own that I found intriguing and fun to follow along. Krampus is an alternate classic for the holidays which I could see myself reading again and again.
The tale begins in our current time frame, and the adventure that Jesse has during the holiday season. Jessie is a deadbeat alcoholic dad who is down in the dumps during the holiday. His wife took their daughter and left him for a police officer who antagonizes Jesse and does what he can to not let Jesse see his daughter. One night Jesse witnesses Santa Claus's sleigh going down into the woods, and comes across his toy sack. He tries to make things better for himself, but then falls into an even bigger situation and stumbles across Krampus. Krampus has been locked up for hundreds of years in a cave, imprisoned by Santa Claus himself. Jesse frees Krampus with the help of Krampuses Belsnickles.
This book really tells 2 tales at once. Jesse and Krampus are both the main characters of the story. The first third of the book was really slow. I started reading this in December, but struggled to keep focused in it. Later in May I was determined to finish the story and glad I did. Once you get through the introduction of the characters (which are a lot of them), and lead up to the plot, the story picks up in pace and events. Brom intertwines paganism, christianity, and norse religion into the origin of Santa Claus and Krampus which I felt was creative and shows the depth of his imagination. Krampus is determined to kill Santa Claus, and spread the word and cheer of the Yule season in classic Krampus style. Jesse is determined to save his his ex and daughter from her crooked cop boyfriend with help from Krampus.
I call it an adult story because the tale has a large variety of abuse, murder, torture, rednecks, alcoholism, corrupt cops, gore, violence and a spat with crazy meth addicts. As a fan of horror books, this surprisingly had an atmosphere of my favorite kind of reads. It teeters between fantasy and horror. I did feel that the ending of the story was very quick and should have been more epic like the battle between Santa and Krampus. It felt as if the author just wanted to wrap up the story to this massive adventure. This story is truly unique and I really did enjoy it once I picked it back up. I am glad to have this book in my collection and has opened me up to the author. After reading “Krampus”, I am interested in reading what other creative adventures Brom has published.
I would have given this book 5 stars, but I did get bored in the begining of the story. But there are several great stories that I have read that are boring in the begining.