Saturday, December 24, 2016

Fairy Tale Fandom Book Report: He Sees You When He's Creepin'.

Today we have a special Christmas Eve review.  Granted, it might be a little late for this particular book, but there were circumstances.

Anyway, the good folks at World Weaver Press, who seem to like me very much despite the fact that I tend to turn in late reviews like this, sent me a digital copy of their newest anthology.  That anthology is He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus edited by Kate Walford who some of you might know from Enchanted Conversation.

Ah, Krampus.  He’s gone from a relatively obscure traditional figure from alpine regions of Europe to a bit of an alternative yuletide star via the internet.  Sort of Santa Claus for the heavy metal crowd.  For those who don’t know, Krampus is a punitive holiday figure from parts of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and some other countries.  He’s a demon that travels with Saint Nicholas and punishes naughty children either by beating them with birch switches or just stuffs them in a bag or basket to drown them, burn them or take them to Hell.  He's become rather popular lately.  Grimm even did an episode about him.
Seems like a nice guy, huh?

Anyway, there are twelve stories in the anthology by a variety of authors.  Though they’re all based around the same traditional figure, almost all of the authors do something different.  For example, despite the demonic main character, only two of the stories seem to be straight-up horror stories.  These would be “Family Tradition” by S.E. Foley and “The Outfit” by Ross Baxter.  In addition to those, we get a subverted fairy tale “Villainess Ascending” by Steven Grimm, an origin story “Krampus: The Summoning” by Brad P. Christy, an police action piece “A Winter Scourge” by Tasmin Showbrook and even a tale of corporate machinations with Anya J. Davis’s “The Business of Christmas”.  One of the tales that really stood out to me was “Family Night” by Nancy Brewka-Clark which is a comedy piece that depicts Krampus as a beleaguered family man.

One thing that the authors in this anthology seem to have embraced is the ability to subvert certain conventions.  I’m not always one for subversion, being a great admirer of certain traditions.  And we can all admit that subversion done badly can be a bit irritating.  However, a lot of what’s done here works.  “Villainess Ascending” subverts the tales of both “Cinderella” and “Mother Holle”.  “Santa’s Little Helper” by Beth Mann subverts the relationship between St. Nicholas and Krampus by making St. Nick a very less-than-likable guy.  “A Winter Scourge” subverts St. Nick again by making the Saint female and even something of a mother figure (I’m not explaining how, you’ll just have to read it).  Both “Bad Parents” by E.M. Eastick and “Family Night” by Nancy Brewka-Clark subvert Krampus himself, making him less cruel or evil and more annoyed.
I actually really like this anthology.

I’ve read one anthology by World Weaver Press before and it was Frozen Fairy Tales, which was also edited by Kate Walford.  In comparing the two, despite the many authors’ different takes, I feel this anthology was a lot more focused.  That’s probably due to the subject matter.  In this case, the authors were focusing on a character.  In Frozen Fairy Tales, the idea was to focus more on a season or weather condition.

I’d give this anthology a recommendation.  It’s a fun little alternative yuletide treat.  If it’s too late to add it to your library for this year, then definitely consider picking it up in advance for next year.

This is Adam the Fairy Tale Geek signing off and wishing all those celebrating a Merry Christmas.

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