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Monday, January 3, 2011

Demon of Christmas Past by Yolanda Sfetsos

Demon of Christmas Past by Yolanda Sfetsos
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
genre: Paranormal, Contemp, holiday
Length: Short Story (74 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Lily

Darkness is cheap, and demons like it…

Noel doesn't like Christmas. The festive season always seems to be riddled with bad luck, but this year he’s determined to change his attitude. After decorating his tree with a string of lights, something happens and one of them explodes causing a woman to magically appear inside his living room.

Natala’s been trapped inside a string of Christmas lights for a long time. Grateful to meet a kind stranger willing to offer her hospitality, she hardly has enough time to enjoy her newfound freedom. Now that she’s free, so is the demon responsible for her imprisonment.

To defeat the dark threat, Noel and Natala are thrust into a whirlwind adventure where trusting each other leads to a lot more than either expected.

Didn’t you just love Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol? Well, here’s a new twist to the tale. This time around it’s Noel Harris who is the Bob Cratchit character with a rather mundane job and who is described by the opening words of the first chapter: “Christmas depressed the hell out of Noel Harris”.

Noel, who suffered disappointing Christmases in his childhood, has lost his beloved wife to cancer and they had no children so there’s no Tiny Tim. Unless he’s represented by the beautiful little being – Natala - who appears from a broken Christmas light. But she certainly doesn’t end the book with the words “Merry Christmas to us all!” Because she’s an imp, imprisoned in the lamp and enslaved by an evil demon who’s been drawn into our world to wreak vengeance on her and havoc on the human race.

We also meet Father Christmas who’s known as Nick. Yes, everyone’s name begins with an ‘n’ and if there’s a reason for this, it passes me by completely. Nick is not your usual Santa Claus either. Okay, he has a penchant for red and green clothing and will bring joy to children on Christmas Day, but it’s also his aim to evict the wicked demon, Decarabia (who is now kicking and screaming in Noel’s linen closet – imprisoned there by the last of Natala the imp’s magic) from the world and banish him to the Wastelands for eternity.

Ms. Sfetsos is a natural story-teller whose tales are told simply, with imagination and are fast-paced. Her writing style seems so easy, although I’m sure she’ll tell me this isn't so at all. The plot develops naturally which kept me reading to see what would happen. Nick is a fully rounded character, young and handsome in his melancholy way, so that I felt quite sorry for him for losing his “soul mate”.

Natala (ah – could her name have something to do with “Natal” for Christmas?) seems to have nothing in common with him – after all, she’s an imp who performs magic and has never heard of baths or showers or even our food. And she’s been enslaved and lived in a lamp for many many years. Yet, they do share something and that’s the desire for love, with one another. And that’s what makes the story so sweet. Natala herself is an intriguing character, yet not enough is said about her, in my opinion. I’d love to have heard more about her native land: the Wilds, about her life there and exactly what her world was like when she was enslaved by Decarabia. Never mind, I still enjoyed the story – and I know there’s a sequel so maybe my curiosity will be satisfied after reading that.

The story arc reached a climax towards the end with a fierce battle between all four characters which was entertaining as well as nail-bitingly fierce. With the blood-thirsty ending and the fairly explicit love scenes, it’s an enjoyable tale which will brighten anyone’s Christmas.