Happy merry bells of Yuletide, everybody! String your lights and play some Bing Crosby, because it is once again the coziest and most wholesome time of the year.
If you’re not sure how you’re going to survive, then this post is for you. These are tales of Christmas awkward and Christmas a little close to home, Christmas haywire and Christmas out of control. If you’re just about done with carols and fir trees, try one of these strange and refreshingly wicked reads.
The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Ya gotta believe…or life as Discworld knows it will end. When a shadowy assassin’s guild hires an expert to kill the Santa-like Hogfather, Death must take over the portly gift-giver’s role for a night. A hilarious and rollicking ride through Pratchett’s Discworld universe, with appearances by the Unseen University, Death’s granddaughter Susan, and, of course, the ever-popular Death. No familiarity with the series is necessary to enjoy this installment, but afterward, you might find yourself wanting to read the rest, too. This rollicking fantasy has also been adapted for the screen.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Herdmans are the worst. Hands-down, no question, point-blank the worst kids ever. They swear. They hit other kids. They only come to church because they hear that there are snacks. However, once there, they decide to invade the annual Nativity pageant and play all of the main characters, and who’s going to say “no” to the Herdmans? As the barbaric group runs amok over Christmas, the congregation begins to expect a disastrous play. But be not afraid! When all is said and done, everyone might learn something about the Christmas spirit from the Herdmans. Though nominally for children, this book is a hilarious winner for all age groups, and a quick read for busy adults.
The Stupidest Angel: a heartwarming tale of Christmas terror by Christopher Moore
Little Joshua saw someone killing Santa Claus – or, at least, someone dressed up as Santa Claus – and now he has just one Christmas wish: please let Santa not be dead. Unfortunately for everyone, the Archangel Raziel, the Lord’s stupidest servant, has descended to Earth to grant the sincere Christmas wish of an innocent child. Chaos erupts as Raziel, whose good nature is somewhat impeded by a tendency to take things literally, grants the child’s wish. Uproarious and twisted. We highlighted this story in a previous post, but it bears mentioning twice because it’s just that funny.
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Once you’ve been a Christmas elf, the holidays just aren’t the same. This collection features Sedaris’ popular early essay, “The Santaland Diaries,” which has been featured on NPR several times. Dark and satirical, and with quite a bit of wry social commentary thrown in, these aren’t exactly “The Night Before Christmas.” However, many hit home. They’re also ideal for family gatherings thanks to their brevity. Read them aloud for the adults after the kids have turned in to wait for Santa.
On Christmas Eve, a spectre interrupts Edmund Gravel’s Christmas fruitcake. It is the Spectre of Christmas that Never Was, and is followed by that Spectres of Christmases that Aren’t and Never Will Be. Join him as he is whisked away on a journey strangely reminiscent of that of a certain Ebeneezer Scrooge, but with more wit and irreverence. Thrill as he witnesses Affecting Scenes, Distressing Scenes, and Heart-Rending Scenes. Anyone who has ever rolled their eyes at an overdone production of A Christmas Carol will appreciate this tongue in cheek, highly visual adaptation.
Krampus: the Yule Lord by Brom
“Santa Claus, my dear old friend, you are a thief, a traitor, a slanderer, a murderer, a liar, but worst of all you are a mockery of everything for which I stood. You have sung your last ho, ho, ho, for I am coming for your head.”
I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus by S.G. Browne
There’s no good way to say it: Andy is disguised as Santa Claus and hiding from medical researchers. This is because he is a member of the living dead demographic, whose struggle for civil rights is going less than brilliantly. But when he meets a sad nine-year-old girl who really thinks he’s Santa Claus, he gets into the act! Meanwhile, an underground undead resistance needs Andy’s help to continue the cause. Can Andy achieve zombie equality and rescue Christmas? Let’s hope so! (Available in the Commonwealth Catalog – just search for “zombies eating Santa Claus”)
Fans of Dexter will likely enjoy the psychopathic Serge A. Storms as he gets into the holiday spirit. Whether racking up a body count or spreading Christmas cheer in his own inimitable way, Serge endangers the public good even as he entertains readers. This is part of a series by the quirky, gonzo-style Tim Dorsey, but don’t worry if you haven’t read the rest. It’s a good New Year’s resolution, right?
Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
Who is the mysterious man who appears in Stephanie Plum’s kitchen? And why is he also looking for Santa Claus? It’ll take half of Trenton, NJ to solve the caper! Evanovich has a massive fan contingent and many of our readers may already be familiar with her. The zany life of her star Fugitive Apprehension Agent (read bounty hunter) takes on a supernatural twist in this fun holiday installation.