the Little Red Reviewer

Krampus: The Yule Lord, by Brom

Posted on: November 16, 2012

Krampus: The Yule Lord, by Brom

published November 2012

where I got it: Borrowed ARC from a friend

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In rural West Virginia lives 20-something Jesse Walker, and his life pretty much sucks.  His wife Linda has left him for another man, his musical career is a disaster, and his only job leads are running drugs for the local thugs.  It’s Christmas time, Jesse wishes he could afford gifts for his daughter, wishes he could make thing right with his estranged wife.  And then, he sees Santa. On a sleigh, with reindeer, complete with bottomless bag of gifts, Santa gets attacked by demons, and in the shuffle, Jesse ends up with Santa’s bottomless sack.

Ahh, but Santa isn’t who you think he is, and that bottomless bag never belonged to him in the first place. This is where the story gets interesting, with Brom weaving together Norse and Germanic mythology and the stories of St. Nick and the pagan solstice holidays that Christmas eventually replaced. Jesse may being pulling gifts for his daughter out of the sack, but now he’s got Krampus, the Yule Lord, on his tail.

Imprisoned by Santa and left to die, Krampus  has finally gained the strength to escape his chains. With the help of his supernatural Belsnickel servants, he’s learned the location of the sack. Although he looks the part, Krampus is not a devil. The original winter spirit,  Krampus reinvigorated our freezing ancestors, to give them hope that they could survive the long, harsh winter. Gaining strength and feeding his hatred towards Santa, Krampus now has everything he needs to turn Yule back to its original meaning.

Meanwhile, in the mortal world, things aren’t getting any better for Jesse. Linda has moved in with her new beau, an abusive man who may have killed his first wife, and the drug running thugs have put a price on Jesse’s head. Jesse convinces Krampus to help him, but the Yule Lord isn’t interested in taking orders from a mere human.

There was nothing inherently wrong with Krampus, but it wasn’t incredible either.  The plot moves forward at a healthy pace, but the characters were mostly one dimensional and I felt no emotional investment towards any of them.  I’d have loved for more background on Jesse and the Belsnickel Isabel.  For me, the best part of the book were the scenes were Krampus’s culture shock at our modern, commercial view of Christmas.  He’s an ancient demi-god, he doesn’t understand texting or ipads, or political corruption or conspicuous consumption. He doesn’t understand that people’s mindsets and beliefs have drastically changed in the last thousand years, and it was easy to imagine him having that deer-in-headlights on his face. Krampus had a magnificent backstory, and I wanted more of that.

Krampus is a fun and fast-paced urban fantasy, and certainly one designed to be read at this time of year.  The mythos-come-to-life was my favorite part, and I appreciated Brom’s afterward where he talks about some of the research that he did. I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I’m sure a lot of the references were lost on me, and I’ll bet people who celebrate Christmas will get a lot more out of the book than I did.

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11 Responses to "Krampus: The Yule Lord, by Brom"

It sounds kind of interesting but you don’t sound like you loved it? BTW that cover is fureaky! I could say something more but I’m going to be nice and polite!
Lynn :D

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that pretty much sums it up.. I read it on a lark, wasn’t sure what I expected. and yes, cover is completely freaky, You do NOT want to leave this on your bedside table and catch it out of the corner of your eye in the middle of the night.

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I only got to read the first 60 pages or so before my review e-book expired (still grumpy about that). But I’m surprised you didn’t like the characters. I only got to know Jesse briefly, but at the very beginning, I thought Brom conveyed that feeling of guilt and of being useless really well.
I’m totally bummed that I didn’t get to see Krampus come into our world. But I still may pick up a copy – this time im paper because Brom’s illustrations always pay off – and finish it.

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e-ARCs expire? that’s. . . that’s horrible! worse than getting a visit from Krampus in the middle of the night!

The illustrations in the paper ARC were obviously galley quality, I can only assume they will be much, much clearer and higher quality in the finished book.

Jesse’s uselessness annoyed me so, so much.

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I’ve been told only the non-kindle formats expire (WTF?) but yes, they do. I got an Edelweiss-copy a couple of days before publication date and the book expired exaclty on the day of publication. Try to open it and it tells you “whoops, I’m DRM protected – you can’t read me anymore.”

My personal experience with the Krampus (I live in Austria, Krampus day is an actual event) has been scary but pleasant. People dress up with huge masks looking a lot like Brom’s cover. They chase kids down the streets and “whip” them with branches and such. All very child-friendly of course. But if you’re eight years old, it’s still gloriously terrifying. Plus, you usually get oranges and nuts and candy. :)

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that’s awesome! Krampus Day, that is, not DRM stuff on e-arcs. When is Krampus day? is it during Christmas? I think I could handle some scary stuff if oranges and candy were the prize for surviving. ;)

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December 5th. The day before Nikolaus (as in Saint Nicholas) – as a child, those two days are awesome. Run away from scary monsters one day, wake up the next with lots of chocolate and maybe even small gifts next to your bed. It makes the long waiting for Christmas Day a little more bearable.

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if we did that in the US, I’d totally be on the Christmas bandwagon!

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Hey, just a quick question, is this Book somewhat Child-Friendly? I mean besides being scary? Its not overly violent or sensual is it? Any “Parental Information” you oculd give me would be great!

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sorry about that, I should have mentioned something in the review. Krampus most definitely rated R for strong language (buckets upon buckets of the F-bomb) and some graphic violence. this is about as far as you can get from kid-friendly.

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I’ve had this book on my amazon wishlist forever b/c my library doesn’t carry it. I have, however, read his Peter Pan book and his one about the toys who come to life and fight a battle against an evil demon to save a little boy. I’m in love with his illustrations, and his writing ain’t half bad either. Maybe some day I’ll get around to reading Krampus.

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