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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Unholy Night

Seth Grahame-Smith first made a mash-up splash with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in 2009, and followed it with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer the following year. The movie version of the latter is set for release next month (check out the trailer). Grahame-Smith has been busy with screenplays lately, responsible for both his own novel and Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows.”

But not too busy to write a third novel, this one using the nativity story. There’s a great interview with Grahame-Smith in The Hollywood Reporter addressing the parameters he set for approaching such a sacred story, beginning with “One, don’t put any words in Jesus’ mouth. Ever. In fact, the word Jesus doesn’t appear in the book. It’s always the infant or the baby.”

EW cleverly calls it “a fantasy action-adventure akin to fusing Game of Thrones with the Gospel of Luke.”

GRAHAME-SMITH, Seth. Unholy Night. 320p. Grand Central. 2012. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0-446-56309-3. LC number unavailable.  Unholy Night

Adult/High School–We know these three wise men. They come from the East, following a brilliant star that shines above the town of Bethlehem. They bring gifts to honor the birth of a great king. Accounts vary on who these men are, where they have come from, or even if they were indeed three in number. But no account matches their flamboyant escapades as portrayed in Unholy Night. The story centers on Balthazar, the man from Syria. Embittered by an impoverished childhood and the merciless killing of his beloved brother, he gained infamy as the “Ghost of Antioch,” a hardened, vicious criminal. He hooks up with the other two men in a prison cell while they await execution. They escape, and the trio is formed. After stumbling into a small shed that is already occupied by a young couple and a newborn infant, Balthazar finds himself moved to protect the small family and get them to Egypt. Readers are treated to lengthy, detailed descriptions of decapitations, murderous sword fights, and grisly diseases throughout the book. This slapstick violence is well-paired with a satiric narration. Teens who enjoy the writing of Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, or Christopher Moore will find this book a hoot. In particular, comparison with Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (Perennial, 2003) is inevitable. Like Lamb, Grahame-Smith has a lot of fun with Biblical characters, but preserves an aura of sanctity around Jesus himself.–Diane Colson, Palm Harbor Library, FL

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.