Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review: Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

Title: Krampus the Yule Lord

Author: Brom

 •Source: Purchased
 •Publisher: Harper Voyager
 •Publication Date: October 30, 2012

Opening Line: Santa Claus... How vile your name upon my tongue.

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One Christmas Eve in a small hollow in Boone County, West Virginia, struggling songwriter Jesse Walker witnesses a strange spectacle: seven devilish figures chasing a man in a red suit toward a sleigh and eight reindeer. When the reindeer leap skyward taking the sleigh, devil men, and Santa into the clouds, screams follow. Moments later, a large sack plummets earthward, a magical sack that will thrust the down-on-his luck singer into the clutches of the terrifying Yule Lord, Krampus. But the lines between good and evil become blurred as Jesse’s new master reveals many dark secrets about the cherry-cheeked Santa Claus, and how half a millennium ago, the jolly old saint imprisoned Krampus and usurped his magic.

Now Santa’s time is running short, for the Yule Lord is determined to have his retribution and reclaim Yuletide. If Jesse can survive this ancient feud, he might have the chance to redeem himself to his family, to save his own broken dreams...and help bring the magic of Yule to the impoverished folk of Boone County.

4 Moons
Angel Demon

Brom's art is simply amazing, although a little creepy. Krampus: The Yule Lord is a dark but surprisingly uplifting story. Bram has this amazing gift for showing the dark parts of humanity while still managing to give you a sense of hope. Krampus and Santa are rich and complex characters. I could not help falling in love with Krampus, he's definitely my favorite character. Krampus is endearing one moment and very naughty the next. I also loved the fact that Brom mixed the story of Krampus with Norse mythology.

Yule is the rebirth of seasons and the true spirit of Mother Earth. Without Yuletide the earth cannot heal herself. If mankind stops believing, if the spirit of Yule fades, Mother Earth will wither and die. The power of mankind's belief, their love and devotion, is what heals the land. But mankind eventually had new gods, the old ways were being forgotten. Krampus the Yule Lord's shrines were being abandoned. By the early 1300s a new tradition named Christmas had begun. More and more people began celebrating Christmas, Yule and Winter Solstice were being forgotten. Krampus decided that he would remind them, rewarding children that remembered him with a gift from Loki's sack and punishing those who did not.

Santa Clause is really Baldr, the son of Odin. Baldr was Odin's most beloved son and was virtually indestructible. The only thing that could harm Baldr was mistletoe. Loki, Krampus' grandfather, saw Baldr for the treacherous person he was. Loki tricked Hoor, Baldr's blind brother, into killing Baldr. Baldr was then imprisoned in Hel, where Krampus' mother ruled. There was a prophecy that Baldr would be reborn on earth after earth was cleansed of darkness by an all-consuming fire. Baldr was to be reborn a god of light and peace, a just god, to watch over the world of men. The fire never came and sometime between the 1300 and 1400s Krampus found Baldr stumbling around in the woods. Krampus pitied Baldr and brought Baldr back to his house. Krampus offered Baldr brotherhood and a place a his side, but Baldr had decided to embrace Saint Nicholas. Baldr told Krampus that the old ways were dead and the ancient's time on earth had passed. Baldr imprisoned Krampus and tries to learn the magic of Loki's sack. Baldr had betrayed his heritage, Krampus and the ancient ones.

Baldr's obsession with Saint Nicholas grew. He started dressing like Saint Nicholas, growing his hair and beard long. Baldr started visiting homes on Christmas day, pretending he was Saint Nicholas, and handing out presents. In the 1400s Baldr started parading Krampus around in a cart pulled by goats. Krampus sat on a throne of rotting vegetables. Baldr preached Christian virtues and called Krampus nothing more than a wicked imp, an evil buffoon. Year after year this would continue unless Krampus revealed the secret of Loki's sack.

That stopped in the early 1500s. Krampus thought Baldr had forgotten him until Baldr showed up in front of his cell door. Baldr introduced himself as Father Christmas and told Krampus he was no longer needed. Baldr had unlocked the secret of Loki's sack using blood magic, the very thing he preached against. Baldr claimed that it was time for Krampus to be utterly forgotten and flew them across the ocean to America and chained Krampus in a cave were no one would ever find him.

That's were Krampus sat for 500 years, in a cave in Boone County, West Virginia. All the plotting and waiting is now over, Krampus is free. Now the epic battle between Krampus and Santa Clause can begin. Krampus now only has two things left to accomplish, to kill Santa Clause and spread the splendor of Yuletide once again, returning Mother Earth to her glory.


Santa Claus...
       How vile your name upon my tongue. Like acid, hard to utter without spitting. Yet I find myself capable of speaking little else. It has become my malediction, my profane mantra.
       Santa Claus... Santa Claus... Santa Claus.
       That name, like you, like your Christmas and all its perversions, is a lie. But then you have always lived in a house of lies, and now that house has become a castle, a fortress. So many lies that you have forgotten the truth, forgotten who you are...forgotten your true name.
       I have not forgotten.
       I will always be here to remind you that it is not Santa Claus, nor is it Kris Kringle, or Father Christmas, or Sinterklaas, and it certainly is not Saint Nicholas. Santa Claus is but one more of your masquerades, one more brick in your fortress.
       I will not speak your true name. No, not here. Not so long as I sit rotting in this black pit. To hear your name echo off the dead walls of this prison, why that...that would be a sound to drive one into true madness. That name must wait until I again see the wolves chase Sol and Mani across the heavens. A day that draws near; a fortnight perhaps, and your sorcery will at long last be broken, your chains will fall away and the winds of freedom will lead me to you.
       I did not eat my own flesh as you had so merrily suggested. Madness did not take me, not even after sitting in this tomb for half a millennium. I did not perish, did not become food for the worms as you foretold. You should have known me better than that. You should have known I would never let that happen, not so long as I could remember your name, not so long as I had vengeance for company.
       Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murderer, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood.
       You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming for your head. For Odin, Loki, and all the fallen gods, for your treachery, for chaining me in this pit for five hundred years. But most of all I am coming to take back what is mine, to take back Yuletide. And with my foot upon your throat, I shall speak your name, your true name, and with death staring back at you, you will no longer be able to hide from your dark deeds, from the faces of all those you betrayed.
       I Krampus, Lord of Yule, son of Hel, bloodline of the great Loki, swear to cut your lying tongue from your mouth, your thieving hands from your wrists, and your jolly head from your neck.

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