Saturday, December 22, 2012
Claus : Legend of the Fat Man - Tony Bertauski
2012; 327 pages. New Author? : Yes. Genre : Christmas Fantasy. Overall Rating : 7½*/10.
It’s 1820, and Nicholas Santa has set out to achieve his life’s goal – to reach the North Pole. His wife (Jessica) and son (Jon) are with him on his quest. But none of them are experienced explorers, and they’re not well-equipped for an Arctic trek. They’ll probably die, but at least they’ll die together.
Unfortunately, when Nicolas falls down a deep, Wonderlandish hole during a blizzard, and his wife and son are carried away by the gale-force wind, it seems more likely they’ll just die separately.
What’s To Like...
Despite that rather somber summary, Claus : Legend of the Fat Man has a feel more like a fairytale, albeit an epic one. Tony Bertauski deftly blends in a number of holiday characters – Frosty the Snowman, elves, The Night Before Christmas story, Jack Frost, and Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer. The latter don’t really fly, they’ve been bio-engineered to be able to leap hundreds of miles at a time. Nicholas Santa and Claus are two separate beings. Half the fun of the book is trying to figure out how that will resolve itself.
The pacing is brisk, the chapters are short, and the story doesn’t get bogged down with excessive descriptiveness. The characters aren’t deep, but they are entertaining. Even the bad guy has a certain charm about him. The author has fun with fonts and font sizes, which I found amusingly neat.
But there is also a darker edge to the story. This may be a “once upon a time” tale, but the bad guy was made, not born, that way; and he is not to be trifled with.
“There you go again!” The fat man threw his hands up. “That’s the problem with you warmbloods, you’re always complicating things with thinking, thinking, thinking! You’ve got reality covered in layers of thought, how do you even tie your shoes? Just be present, just be here, AND STOP WITH THE MONKEY MIND!” (loc. 832)
“He’s not real,” Jon muttered. “It’s just an illusion.”
“He’s as real as you and me.”
“He’s made of snow, Tinsel. That’s not blood and bone.”
“Is that what makes someone real, blood and bone? A body? Please, Jon. You’re not your body any more than Frosty is snow and ice.” (loc. 2090)
Claus : Legend of the Fat Man sells for $2.99 at Amazon. Tony Bertauski offers nine other e-books, all presumably of the fantasy genre, ranging in price from free to $2.99.
“The North Pole is not a place, the natives said. It is not land. It is ice.” (loc. 240)
CLotFM is another one of those YA stories that adults will enjoy too. There’s no sex and I don’t recall any cuss words. There’s a hint of romance and a tinge of science (e.g. : helium-filled bladders in the chests of the reindeer so they can "fly"). There are a couple fatalities, but they occur offstage.
I found this book to be festively twisted, just right for the Holiday season. 7½ Stars. Add another star if The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is your kind of Yule story.