Title: Kringle, by Tony Abbott,
Kringle is a 12-year-old boy who has had a special mission since birth, though he hasn't always known it. It takes a disaster to help him discover it. Before the story is done, we've learned just where Father Christmas came from, and why we aren't plagued by goblins (you wondered, right?).
I really, really wanted to love this book. And I did like it. I did. But I didn't love it. It took me a lot of thinking, but I believe I've figured out why not, since most of the story really pulled me in. The problem is the mixing of mythologies. See, the majority of the book reads like a good fantasy, in a land where there are elves and goblins and magic. And then, enter the Romans, and a priest, and the story of the Child (never named, but you know who they mean). Now, I get that an origin story for Santa Claus kind of has to involve the point of the holiday. But it just feels wrong. I ended up feeling like someone had stuck a pill into my nice, yummy fantasy dessert. Now, maybe other people won't feel this way. Maybe I'm sensitive to religious teachings in the Middle Grade fiction I read. Or maybe it really is that the two mythologies don't fit so well together.
Aside from my issues, though, the fantasy is well-written, and has just the right amount of drama and excitement and danger. And it really is a fun take on where Santa--er, Kris Kringle--comes from. For that, I'll give it 4 stars. But I'm not sure I can really say either that it's a great Christmas story or that it's a great fantasy.
Disclaimer: I checked Kringle out from my local public library, and received nothing from the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed herein are my own and those of no one else.
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