Seth Grahame-Smith has made a name for himself with delightful re-imaginings of well-known stories and histories, including Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Unholy Night continues this trend, tackling the story of Christmas and the three kings who journeyed to visit a small babe lying in a manger. Or, rather, of the three escaped criminals disguised as noblemen who try to hide out in a manger that also happens to house Mary, Joseph and the recently born baby Jesus.
Grahame-Smith approaches the story through the perspective of one of the three visiting kings, Balthazar--a professional thief famous across the Roman Empire for his masterful deceits. When Balthazar escapes execution, with two other criminals in tow, he finds himself on the journey of a lifetime, in the company of a carpenter, a woman and a babe--with the entire Roman army on his heels. His fight to protect his travelling band is complicated by his agnostic views, his lack of religion and his tortured past.
Peter Berkrot's (77 Shadow Street) narration brings Grahame-Smith's already rich characters to life, from the spunky, opinionated Mary to the spiteful, bitter Balthazar, and though the three "kings" do not, in fact, smoke a rubber cigar, they do have their fare share of humorous exchanges, adventures and full-out battles. Unholy Night is an entertaining retelling of one of the most familiar stories in Western civilization.
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Unholy Night | Seth Grahame-Smith, nar. Peter Berkrot | Hachette Audio | Unabridged Audio CD | April 2012 | Buy from an independent near you