Being raised Catholic and having a sound familiarity with the story of ‘history’s most celebrated birth’, I didn’t quite know what to expect from Grahame-Smith’s book. What I got was one heck of a good read and a book I now affectionately refer to as “The gospel according to Seth”!
Unholy Night is written from the perspective of the three wise men of the nativity. The most notorious being Balthazar, who because of necessity and circumstance becomes a thief so infamous he is known as ‘The Antioch Ghost’ and along with the baby Messiah ends up on King Herod’s most wanted list. As Balthazar is waiting for execution he meets up with two other condemned prisoners Gaspar and Melchyor who round out the wise men trio. Together they mount a daring escape and follow the bright start to the east where they take refuge in a stable and meet up with Joseph, Mary and that baby-“there’s something about that baby”. The baby with the blue eyes.
The dialogue throughout the book is priceless. One of my favorites was this exchange in the stable when the wise men are told of Mary’s tale. Balthazar says to Joseph, “she gets pregnant before your wedding and you think its some kind of…miracle?” Then Gaspar adds, “I think the only ‘miracle’ is that you believed her.”
Hilarious right? And in my opinion not at all irreverent.
The adventure continues when the wise men take it upon themselves to protect the baby from Herod and the long arm of Rome’s army led by Pontius Pilate. Their destination is Egypt and along the way they encounter all sorts of obstacles both natural and supernatural. The story moves along seamlessly, the characters are multidimensional and Grahame-Smith remains true to the period which fills the story with violence, brutality, blood, guts and gore. Unholy Night ends brilliantly with poetic justice and Seth Grahame-Smith leaves you wanting more. One last note to make is that this book would translate beautifully into a movie and I wouldn’t’ be surprised if Seth has a screenplay up his sleeve.
Reviewed by Kiara Fruncillo