If you’re like us and would rather move to the North Pole in search of Santa Claus than endure another December with the same old thing, you need to check out this list of books.
They’ll help you enter into a world where ghosts take you time travelling, penguins are police officers, Santa Claus gets killed, Death takes a prominent festive role, and a man kidnaps children and takes them to ChristmasLand to steal their souls.
Have we got your attention yet?
A Christmas Carol 2: The Return Of Scrooge by Robert J. Elisberg (2012)
God bless us, every one, said Tiny Tim in the closing lines of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas novel, A Christmas Carol. Well, God may have blessed everyone and the three ghosts of Christmas may have transformed Ebenezer Scrooge but things did not turn out that well after all....
In this humorous, witty and unusual sequel by Robert Elisberg, the story takes place five years after the death of Scrooge who has left his firm to his former clerk, Bob Cratchit. Now, Cratchit is a swell man. He is warm, generous, benevolent – the epitome of the spirit of Christmas. He’s the sort of guy the three ghosts of Christmas would never visit – except they do.
You see, Cratchit’s overly-generous benevolence, with unchecked lending and charity giving, has driven the company to the verge of bankruptcy. So, in good ol’ Dickens style, the ghost of Scrooge returns one Christmas Eve to teach his former clerk the true meaning of money. The three spirits of Christmas take Cratchit on that magical journey to the past, present and future, and show him that his generosity is not the problem but it’s his lack of common sense and good judgement that is causing havoc.
Also peppered throughout this funny tale are dozens of characters from other Dickens novels. Time for another Christmas miracle!
Santa Claus Is Dead by Jason Twede (2006)
You better watch out, you better not cry. Better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town, says the old pop song. Well, not anymore. If anyone should have watched out for anything, it is Santa himself.
In this grim holiday novel, Santa is murdered. An Elf finds his body in the middle of the forest and the only clue available is a single set of footprints leading to the body. Now it’s all up to detective Johnny Iceberg to find out who the culprit is. This may very well be the most important investigation of his career!
Enter a world where penguins are police officers, polar bears are beat reporters and Mrs Claus is a hottie in a curvy, low-cut dress. Will detective Johnny Iceberg get to the bottom of the matter?
He’d better because an 11-year-old girl finds herself framed for Santa’s murder and her only hope is the jaded and bitter detective. Can there be a Christmas miracle, even with a dead Santa Claus?
The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum (1902)
From the author who brought you the Wonderful Wizard Of Oz books, here is a story about Santa Claus and his life in an enchanted forest.
You can follow him as he marks his life’s milestones, such as making his first toy, and get answers to little known curiosities like why he insists on sliding down chimneys, how he picks his reindeer, and how in the world he manages to deliver all his toys in one night.
That aside, this is a story that’s also filled with many things whimsical: baby Santa Claus was found in the forest by the Master Woodsman of the World and raised by Shiegra the lioness and Necile the wood nymph.
When he reaches adulthood, he can no longer stay in the magical forest. So where does he go? The Laughing Valley of Hohaho, of course, where he lives with a little cat named Blinky. Oh, my heart.
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (1996)
The unthinkable has happened. In Terry Pratchett’s renowned Discworld universe, it is the jolly old Hogfather who is eagerly expected on Hogswatchnight, bringing gifts and spreading joy to all and sundry. But this year, something has gone horribly wrong: The Hogfather has disappeared. Who on the Great Turtle’s back can fill in for him? How about Death?
So Death dons the Hogfather’s red suit and tries to make the best of it, even as his beloved granddaughter, Susan, is sent to foil the murder plan of the Auditors. Mr Teatime is tasked with destroying the Hogfather using teeth found in the Tooth Fairy’s castle, a place that Death cannot enter because it is a castle constructed from the imaginations of children who have no concept of death.
Does something not exist simply because you do not know it? If the Hogfather is out of sight and out of mind, does that also mean he will soon cease to exist?
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (2013)
Trust Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King, to turn Christmas into something terrifying.
Meet Charles Manx. He’s a creepy old man who enjoys abducting children in his car and taking them to ChristmasLand, a twisted Christmas village of Manx’s imagination, where every day is Dec 25 and unhappiness is against the law.
Manx wants to keep children forever innocent, free from the horrors of growing up – something he accomplishes in the most sinister way possible.
Meanwhile, Vic McQueen is a girl from a troubled family who discovers she has the ability to find anything when riding her bicycle over a mysterious bridge.
She discovers her gift has a connection with Manx, leading her to have several confrontations with the old man through her life. It all leads to a chilling climax when Vic has to venture into the heart of ChristmasLand.
This spooky story is perfect for horror fans (just don’t blame us if it makes you look at Christmas decorations with suspicion instead of delight).
Nos4A2 is also set to become a television series next year, with Ashleigh Cummings playing Vic and Zachary Quinto playing Manx.
Hiddensee, A Tale Of The Once And Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire (2017)
Many of us know The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, which is often performed at Christmas time. In the story’s beginning, the toymaker Drosselmeyer gives Klara a nutcracker shaped like a man.
This unique item later comes alive and grows into the size of a real person, triggering a host of fantasy adventures.
But how did Drosselmeyer acquire the nutcracker to begin with? This book attempts to answer that, spinning a dark tale of death, mythology and magic.
Maguire is the master at twisting fairytales; he is most famous for turning the Wicked Witch of The Wizard Of Oz into a heroine in his book Wicked. In Hiddensee, he tells the life story of Drosselmeyer, a young foundling boy who lives with a woodcutter and his wife in the woods.
After receiving a vision that his guardians will kill him, he embarks into the world, meeting many people who distrust him. This ultimately leads to the events of the Nutcracker.
A heads up, though: Maguire explores some very mature themes in this book, so you may not want to give this to young readers.