I can just imagine Seth Grahame-Smith as a child, sitting in bible school, day-dreaming of the wise men battling their way to Egypt. Unholy Night describes the Wise Men’s journey in comic book vernacular — that is, in a series of fight scenes worthy of big speech bubbles with the words, SPLAT, BOOM and POW written in them.
I never learned much about religion (my secular public school had a don’t ask, don’t tell policy about religion) but I imagine Grahame-Smith’s retelling of a classic bible story might be a little blasphemous. The Wise Men are a bunch of criminals led by Balthazar, also known as the Antioch Ghost, a legendary thief hated by King Herod.
When Balthazar escapes from Herod with two other criminals: Melchyor and Gaspar. They escape to Bethlehem with pockets full of stolen frankincense and well, we all know who’s in Bethlehem. In trying to get baby Jesus to Egypt, Balthazar encounters all sorts of supernatural events. I don’t want to give away too many details but Grahame-Smith, who also wrote Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, does an awesome job at putting his own (bloody, gorey) twist on supernatural bible phenomenons (I think these are called miracles).
Unholy Night was a fun and fast read — and you don’t need to know anything about Christianity to appreciate it. I’ve always said that fight scenes and car chases are great for movies and bad in books. But Unholy Night proved me wrong. Grahame-Smith’s detailed description of violence is commendable. After all, the Bible was one violent book.