The two-star rating isn't fair, but I didn't enjoy Unholy Night
very much. Grahame-Smith tells a good story, tweaking the established framework of the Nativity to build a compelling tale filled with adventure, revenge, and a little mysticism; however, the novel's bad guys are really indefensibly bad, and I don't think it's a spoiler to say that any story involving King Herod is going to be heavy on the horrible.
These things would be fine if I weren't such a delicate over-invested flower, and I think for most readers -- readers who are able to separate themselves from the story -- this would be a rollicking adventure. For those who are familiar with the New Testament, it might be fun to spot divergences and see which familiar names make appearances in Unholy Night
. There are swordfights! Very carefully described swordfights. There's a lot of cutting and hacking and ducking and plunging.
And that's where I ran into a problem, because a lot of the violence in Unholy Night
is directed toward kids, BABIES, and while it's historically accurate and everything, that's just not something I can handle when I'm reading for pleasure. I can't totally deal with the adult-on-adult violence, either, to be honest -- Grahame-Smith describes it way too lovingly -- but the huge amount of kid stuff takes it over the edge into Have-to-Skim Territory.
I don't know, there are enough times in real life where I have to batten down the hatches so that I don't become useless to my own kids; I try not to purposefully chase after things that wreck me. I'm sure this means I'm missing out on a lot of great literature but it also keeps me (relatively) sane.
But that's my special snowflake thing, and obviously many people CAN deal, and for those people, I think this is a good book. I have a few minor quibbles, like the fact that the the only character who's fully fleshed out is Balthazar, the protagonist, and that the dialogue felt too modern at times given the historic setting. And I think the ending felt a little rushed. But then, I was skimming a lot of it so for all I know, it was perfectly timed and felt faster than it is.
So, after all that long explanation, you can see why I feel like my two stars are a little unfair, but they're based on my enjoyment, right? So I'm going to leave it.