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Krampus: the Yule Lord

Ever wonder if Santa Claus has an alter ego? I never did---liked him just as he appeared in “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” Santa Claus was the kindly giver of toys each Christmas and an early guiding light into “grown up” belief as each new birthday added different possibilities of doubt about the unseen. Occasionally an adult with a wicked gleam in his eye would remind us of the switches Santa supposedly carried to punish bad children, but I never placed much stock in that…until recently. In looking for a new Christmas novel to read, I stumbled upon Krampus: the Yule Lord by Brom. The origins of the being known as Krampus are somewhat hazy. He seems to have been a primal figure in European folklore, originally representing nature and fertility, possibly akin to the Norse god Loki. Having horns, he was transformed by the coming of Christianity into a figure of fear and evil. Gradually, he became associated with St. Nicholas and evolved into Santa’s terrifying assistant of punishment, dispensing coals and switches. Brom takes this figure of old European mystery and Norse mythology, transplants him to hills of modern West Virginia amid poverty, criminal bosses and lost dreams to weave a wild tale of furious redemption and renewed hope.

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