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September 17, 2012 | by  | in Arts Books |
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Review – Unholy Night

Novel by Seth Grahame-Smith

“Thank God. Or whatever.”

The story of the birth of Jesus is dangerous ground to be treading upon, yet Grahame- Smith deftly weaves a story around this biblical tale by focusing less on the birth and more on what happened next.

He takes this gap in the famous story and widens it, at times a stretch too far for my liking, to create a gritty adventure focused on the humanity of its characters. With or without the son of God, the world that Grahame-Smith portrays is cruel and real, it is surrounded by desert, occupied by Roman soldiers and ruled by a diseased and insane king. By no means are the events of these times sugar-coated and the brutality and horror that surround the birth of Jesus, including the slaughter of baby boys, is not avoided but dragged into the spotlight.

The protagonist Balthazar, aka the Antioch Ghost, is a master thief with revenge in his heart and a refreshing dose of cynicism when it comes to the Immaculate Conception. He and two other petty criminals make up the elusive three wise men, fugitives of the law roped into helping Mary and Joseph avoid having their newborn murdered.

The writing may not be mind-blowing, but the story is captivating. It’s a good, easy read, and as a person who respects religion while not personally being religious, I felt that Grahame- Smith did well to balance a purely fictional story with biblical imagery. Some of the novel may invoke eye-rolling on my part (the dead rising were a little much) but aside from these occasions I did enjoy the book. I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical novels, or good, old-fashioned adventure stories.

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