Mike's Reviews > Unholy Night

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith
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Apr 21, 12

Read from April 15 to 20, 2012

Unholy Night is the story of the birth of Christ as told from the perspective of Balthazar, one of the 3 wise men or Magi that visited him in the manger in Bethlehem. Herod wipes out all the male infants to kill Jesus. The family runs to Egypt to escape. That's that basic story. One every Christian knows. Grahame-Smith's book fills in the details left out by Luke and Matthew. All the familiar names are here; Joseph and Mary, King Herod, Pilate, etc... Even John the Baptist and the archangel Gabriel make brief appearances. Smith definitely did his homework before writing this story.
Like much of the stories in the bible, there is battle and blood throughout and this story is no different. Only instead of the 3 Magi bringing gifts and then the holy family escaping Herod's army to Egypt, these Magi are thieves escaping Herod's capture and wind up taking the task of shepherding Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus away safely. Balthazar is the leader of this group and this story is really about him. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are really just supporting characters in the story of his redemption.
This is quite the violent book. There are beheadings and disembowelments seemingly every 15 pages or so. Balthazar, and fellow “Magi” Melchyor, are almost Middle Eastern Conans with the way they dispatch soldiers. This book is going to make a fun “sword and sandals” movie some day. The Christy-ness is there but kept to a minimum.
I'll admit I'm a sucker for good alternative history fiction...particularly when it comes from a religious base. Turning familiar stories on their ear is fantastic entertainment for me and this was right in my wheelhouse. Just like with “Abraham Lincoln-Vampire Hunter”, Grahame-Smith tells his twisted version of what happened with an earnestness that makes you almost believe he believes it. He doesn't so much as wink at you in shared collusion at perpetuating the satire. I really can't wait to see what era he twists next.
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