Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith is the perfect non-Christmas Christmas read.
It’s the story of three wise men – you know the ones that see the star and end up in a stable in Bethlehem following the birth of the babe to the virgin Mary and her carpenter husband Joseph – it’s their story, but it’s not the story you already know. Unholy Night is an extended version, not quite the directors cut, but it fills some gaps in the bible story – like, who were the three kings? How did they come together? How did Mary and Joesph manage to escape Herod’s soldiers and get all the way to Egypt?
Seth Grahame-Smith shot to fame in the literary world thanks to his Jane Austen literary mash-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and while Unholy Night could be considered a story mix, it’s more original content than not.
It’s the story of Balthazar, a thief known throughout the lands as “the Ghost of Antioch”; Herod’s quest for wealth and power; Gaspar and Melchyor partners in crime; a young couple and their baby; and, Pontius Pilot, a young officer just starting his military career. Sure, there are some classic Grahame-Smith additions – a magus, a swam of man eating locusts and a grrrrr of zombies (grrrrr being my collective noun for them) – that keep the story going and don’t seem too absurd (you’ll just have to believe me on that).
If you’re worried about this taking the piss out of the bible and the story of the first Christmas you don’t have to. It would be impossible to write this story without referencing the bible, but it’s done well, and I didn’t find it to be disparaging – when I finished reading it, I actually had to take a moment to consider my ideas on spirituality, belief and purpose …
If you’re like a good, non-strenuous read with a bit of humour thrown in then Unholy Night should go on TBR list.