This review is part of my Totally F@#$ed-Up Holidays. Enjoy!
What if the Santa Claus you think you know wasn’t really Santa? For that matter, if the Santa that Santa knows wasn’t really Santa?
In Santa Steps Out by Robert Devereaux, we are introduced to a world where the Christian angels, mythological figure (like Santa and the Easter Bunny), and even God himself were once other mythological being, but had their identities erased and were cast in new roles by the current being who calls himself God. This isn’t a spoiler, You’re told as much in the very beginning. For example, the angel Michael was originally Hermes, or the Son (guess who?) was at one time known as Apollo. Even Mrs. Claus was once another mythological being. And instead of Rudolph, Santa’s reindeer are led by Lucifer with flaming antlers (although there’s not indication that he is any relation to the Biblical Lucifer). But there’s a flaw with this new order, and certain mythological beings must never see each other, lest their true identities begin to leak through.
This is the case with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. At one point, by sheer accident, they see each other, and a lusty past between them begins to leak through and revive, and Santa’s original identity begins to leak through and fights with himself (think Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings”). Then the Easter Bunny enters the fray. Take that for what you will.
It seems silly, but Santa Steps Out is actually incredibly good, not to mention surprisingly deep. It’s one of those books that makes you think at first that it’s going to be low-brow, highly sexualized and based solely on shock value. But it’s not this at all. It goes deeply into the subjects of history, identity, love, family, and loyalty.
The author’s choice of words doesn’t make it the easiest of reads. It’s like if Vladimir Nabokov wrote sexual holiday-themed bizarro fiction. Yet it’s so engaging that you never feel lost. The writing style is fluid and artistic, and the editing impeccable (something I’m usually a stickler for). Looking at the cover and the title, it really takes you by surprise. This book was a genuine pleasure to read.
The only complaint I have was the ending. Most of the answers we’re looking looking for are relegated to an epilogue, and things seem to get tied up too quickly, even with the subtle hint at the end that there is more to come. There is a sequel, Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes, which I will eventually get around to reading if it’s anything like this book. Still, at the end it did feel like the author might have written himself into a corner and had to resort to deus ex machina to end the book, even while deus ex machina seemed inevitable. With knowledge that there is a sequel, this takes some of the sting out of it, as Santa Steps Out is rather hefty compared to many bizarro books, not to its detriment.
Santa Steps Out by Robert Devereaux earns 4.5 gold coins out of 5.