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Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

Unholy Night (2012)

by Seth Grahame-Smith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3462031,733 (3.49)15

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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
On one hand, I could see why an agent would drool over representing Grahame-Smith. The snarky quick dialogue and the original idea make it an appealing story. On the other hand, the moral nuances of the tale were muddied. The protagonist is driven by vengeance, which we are lead to believe is a failing. Yet, violence is never renounced as a method of concluding conflict. Since the story is woven around the narrative of Jesus’ birth, I think Grahame-Smith failed to address some central themes
  AuthorGabrielle | May 28, 2017 |
An Excellent Book. Well handled.

Stickler's for anachronisms will find plenty to nitpick about in the author's choice of words, but consider them a "Translation and Framing in Modern Context" and you'll be fine.

There are some interesting narrative shifts that I'm not sure I like.

The author ties all of the participants together in some very interesting ways. Ways that would make any other story seem implausible, but that really only add to this particular tale. ( )
  Grimshado | Apr 19, 2017 |
I am a fan of Seth Grahame-Smith, particularly of his book, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer. SGS has an amazing ability to capitalize on an imagination that seems to have no boundaries. Any boundaries are broken with descriptive and convincing prose.

With the success of his mash ups of zombies/vampires with historical and literary characters, SGS now turns his imagination to speculative fiction....the "what if" of historical events (for the moment suspend your religious viewpoints). What if the three wise men of the Bible were in fact thieves and blood thirsty murderers (although still wise). The absurdity of the plot is perfect for the creative juices flowing from this author's brain but, is the plot really absurd? What do we really know of Balthazar, Gaspard and Melchior? A challenge such as this is where the writing abilities of Seth Grahame-Smith shine.

But alas, the shine is a little dimmer with this novel. The story is of three wise men but the central character and the only character of any depth is Balthazar, lowly thief and murderer wanted by King Herod. Gaspard and Melchior are mere shadow characters coming off as petty and selfish. Yes they are thieves but from a literary stand point they were also flat and one dimensional. The story could have gone on without them.

The author spends much of this book working on the development of Balthazar which is a shame as there are many interesting characters interspersed in the the book. His relationship with Mary and Joseph lacked credibility and Mary in particular was difficult to feel out. I would have liked to see more of a Pontious Pilate-Mary/Joseph-Balthazar relationship but it was kept to a minimum. Those few interactions in particular were more alive than any other scene in the book.

I'm a bit disappointed in this book which has a fantastic premise. Maybe if the three wise men were vampires the book would have been better. ( )
  NancyNo5 | Apr 17, 2016 |
Meet Balthazar, a thieve, occasional murderer, and con artist. From a young age, he has used his wits and flexible morals to keep himself fed and alive. He joined forces with two other criminals while in Herod’s dungeons, fleeing on camelback. They stopped to rest at a barn, only to find a slip of woman, who had recently given birth, and her husband pointing a pitchfork at them menacingly. That’s right. The three wise men mentioned in the bible were criminals in disguise and on the run.

I do believe this has become my favorite Baby Jesus story. I really enjoyed the author’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but found his other famous work Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter to be rather boring. I am glad to say that I found this book to be pretty entertaining. I was a little worried that it would be too religious for me. But that was not the case at all.

The story is pretty gritty. It’s a rough time historically. There’s no indoor plumbing, you have to work pretty hard for your food and shelter, and might makes right. Balthazar is a really interesting character. You don’t have to like him to be intrigued. Pretty soon he becomes known as the Antioch Ghost, being Syrian and able to flit about stealing this bit of jewelry here and that bit of coin there. Alas, he ends up on Herod’s radar and he whips his little army into a frenzy to catch the Antioch Ghost.

In Herod’s dungeons, he meets two other criminals, Gaspar and Melchyor. The three of them make a plan and escape, complete with disguises and camels. It looks like the worst is behind them, until they meet Mary and Joseph and their newborn and get caught up in Herod’s blood lust for the baby. The fighting does contain gory bits, which makes it that much more real and also shows the clear motivation for our characters to either fight or flee.

My one little criticism is one I am sure many can guess: the female characters are few and far between. Early on, there is a lady sex object that Balthazar cons out of some baubles. Then there is Mary, who starts off mute then moves to timid and eventually finds a small voice. Later in the story, there is Sela, who is a fortune teller. She is the most fleshed out of the female characters but since she comes into the story so late, we have only a little time with her. I would have liked to see a better gender balance.

OK, so back to the good stuff. I loved the humor, which was often harsh. The author doesn’t flinch from keeping things real. There is very little reverence in this story and even when you get a few touches of it, there’s still plenty of room for a reader’s personal interpretation. For instance, Balthazar doesn’t believe that Mary was a virgin, but he is most definitely against Herod and his men killing babies. Balthazar is very skeptical about any mystical or religious significance that Mary and Joseph attach to their son and for the story, this comes off as very practical.

As their adventures become more dire and injuries and deaths occur, Balthazar starts to wonder if there is some divine power helping them along. Yet if he considers that, then he has to consider if there is some malevolent force assisting Herod in his hunt for baby Jesus. I really liked that the author left the determination of this up to the reader. At the beginning of the story, I didn’t like Balthazar but he was interesting. By the end, I felt he deserved a pat on the back, a chilled beer, and a month’s worth of rest.

Narration: Peter Berkrot did a really good job with this book. He had a variety of accents and kept all his characters distinct. His voice for Balthazar was the best and he put a lot of emotion in to all the right places. While there were only a few lady characters, his female voices were believable. His voice for the spoiled, angry Herod was also well done. ( )
  DabOfDarkness | Feb 22, 2016 |
The story was good and interesting, the audio production very animated and theatrical. The graphic depiction of violence against babies and children was something I could live without. I enjoyed the Abraham Lincoln book much better. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Seth Grahame-Smithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Berkrot, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rudenberg, MathewAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
The Heads of StateCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Go tell that long tongue liar,
Go and tell that midnight rider,
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter,
Tell'em that God's gonna cut'em down.
-Traditional folk song
For Gordon, who wouldn't have believed a word of it.
First words
A herd of ibex grazed on a cliff high above the Judean Desert -- each of their tiny, antelope-like bodies dwarfed by a pair of giant, curved horns.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Dangerous wise guys,
piss off this guy called Herod,
then rescue Jesus.

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Depicts the lives of the Three Kings of the Nativity, casting them as a set of infamous thieves who accidentally happen upon Joseph, Mary, and the newborn king and help them escape to Egypt.

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