by Brittney Ryan
Since I work in a library I frequently make impulse check-outs based on interesting covers. I recently chose The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan. I picked it partly because the cover is crazy detailed, but also because I don't think I've ever seen a book written by a Brittany/Brittney/Britney before, which I find encouraging. It is not Miss Ryan's fault that her parents spelled her name wrong.
|Photos courtesy of the Holly Claus website.|
The summary on the inside flap says that this is a story about Santa Claus' daughter. I was pretty sure that Santa and Mrs. Claus were too old to be procreating, but I guess not. Good for them! When I flipped to the back cover I was even more surprised...
She turns out not to be Lisa Frank, which is too bad. But she's pretty cool anyway. And I mean that literally.
A lot of the story takes place in Forever, which is the Land of the Immortals. EVERYBODY that you've heard of that is immortal lives here. That includes Santa and Mrs. Claus (who are the king and queen), Greek gods/goddesses, random wizards, elves, dwarves, Pegasus, centaurs, etc, etc. Forever is located at the North Pole but must exist on another plane, because you can't really travel there.
One day, some selfless little boy in New York City sends Santa a letter asking what HE wants for Christmas, since he is always working so hard to give everyone else presents. Santa is so shocked by this that he starts sobbing uncontrollably in his office. Mrs. Claus asks him what he's always wanted and while he is thinking about that she quickly suggests having a baby. He seems happy about this idea, but I don't know that it was really his first choice. She seemed to plant the idea in his head (INCEPTION BWAAAAAA!)
So, Santa and Mrs. Claus have a daughter and the name her Holly. Of course, she is beautiful and everyone thinks she's awesome. Then this guy, Herrikhan, shows up. He is also immortal, but abused his powers and now basically lives in this vermin infested hole in the Earth. Miss Ryan did an excellent job of making this guy disgusting. The imagery describing him made me want to throw up. There is a bunch of roaches and skin falling off; it was gross.
He shows up at Holly's baptism, even though he's not supposed to be allowed in Forever. And everybody is all, "WTF? Herrikhan's here?" And then everyone panics. Somehow Herrikhan gets in Holly's room that night and encases her heart in snow. He does this because he needs the purest heart to be given to him willingly so that he can escape his prison. He thinks putting her heart in snow will keep it safe for him, which makes no sense to me. Why is snow going to keep her heart safer? Will it act as a buffer in case someone shoots her in the chest? Then he tells her parents his stupid plan to convince her to marry him when she is old enough because then she will give him her heart. They aren't that freaked out, and I wouldn't be either. This plan is incredibly flawed, because surely Holly would never be that stupid.
The worst part about the heart-in-snow thing is that Holly can never be warm or her heart will melt and she'll die. So she pretty much grows up in isolation in her frozen rooms with her animal friends as her only company. She does venture out in public a few times, but the citizens of Forever are too nervous around her, because they think her presence means that Herrikhan will stop by. I don't blame them, I'm sure that guy smells terrible.
As Holly gets older, she becomes more and more beautiful; and also develops a talent for sculpting dolls out of porcelain that look just like people she knows. This seems a little creepy to me, but everyone else loves it. She decides she wants to go to the mortal world and do something nice for people to earn her immortality. Her father says no, but she ignores him and goes anyway. I'm glad she does, because it makes me a lot more confident that she will not just marry some psycho wizard and give him her heart just because he tells her she has to.
She arrives in NYC and gets a lot of awkward looks because she isn't wearing a coat and it is practically blizzard weather there. She meets up with a gang of homeless kids who are led by Jeremy, the oldest. Holly wants to earn money so she can feed them and Jeremy helps her get a job with Mr. Kleiner, who runs a toy store owned by a man named Mr. Carroll. Mr. Carroll lives above the toy store, but is really emo and only talks to Mr. Kleiner.
Holly is obviously awesome at her job, since she grew up at the North Pole. She sells toys like nobody's business. She even makes dolls for some of the customers. The dolls look EXACTLY LIKE the girls who buy them. The parents are surprisingly not creeped out by this, even though I would have totally called the cops. They think its nice that the toy store sells dolls that look exactly like the neighborhood kids.
At some point a handsome man shows up and buys a shitload of toys that he later admits to not needing. He keeps telling Holly how hot he thinks she is, which both Holly and I find disturbing. He keeps asking her to go to the opera and stuff. He's clearly Herrikhan. But Holly can't leave until her dad shows up on Christmas Eve, so she tries to ignore him.
Holly has one or two strange encounters with Mr. Carroll, who she feels like she knows from somewhere. This COULD be evidence to show that its actually HIM that Herrikhan is disguising himself as. But Holly has obviously read Harry Potter; and knows that the roguishly handsome stranger who appears to be the bad guy is actually there to protect her. I like Holly that much better knowing she's clearly a Snape fan.
She finally ends up telling HandsomeCreeper/Herrikhan that she will go to the opera with him, but only because it's her last night in NYC. This does not seem like a good idea to me AT ALL. But, when her pet wolf questions her she just shrugs and is all, "I really want to go to the opera." Okay, fine. Good luck. She goes to the opera and to dinner. Predictably, Creeper shows his true colors when he tries to convince her to take off her protection locket that she's had since she was born. She freaks out and leaves.
She runs all the way to the toy store, and upstairs to Mr. Carroll's apartment. They get all weird and kind of lovey-dovey about how they feel like they know each other. And this is the part where we all realize that Mr. Carroll is TOTALLY THAT LITTLE BOY THAT WROTE THE LETTER TO SANTA ASKING WHAT HE WISHED FOR! Seriously, I was so excited by this discovery that I almost screamed in the break room at work. It's terribly romantic because the only reason Holly exists is because of Mr. Carroll's letter.
But Holly doesn't tell him the truth about this. She listens to him tell his story about how he invented some box that can tell the future and how he used to believe in Santa when he wrote that letter, but now he doesn't. Then she decides to take a nap, because of all that overwhelming information. Its kind of rude, actually. When she wakes up Mr. Carroll has also fallen asleep, so she leaves to go get changed so she can come back to the toy store for her last day of work.
Right as she gets to her room, Creeper shows up and pulls all his skin off to show he is Herrikhan. Please don't read this book while you're eating dinner. He tells her she better marry him and give him her heart or else he'll kill everybody. She asks what he is going to do with her heart and he tells her all about his stupid plan to take her heart, then kill her and all the other immortals. Then he will make the world terrible and depressing. Holly asks him why. I seriously love her for this. Why, indeed? If he's going to kill everyone regardless, why not just do it? Herrikhan is momentarily distracted by all the logic and Holly uses this moment to escape.
She runs all the way to the toy store to tell Mr. Carroll the truth and HE DOESN'T BELIEVE HER. What a dick. She protests that she believed him about his stupid future box, but he makes a whole bunch of excuses. She gives him her protection locket and makes him promise to wear it and not give it to Herrikhan. Then she leaves with Jeremy to go find all the homeless kids. I don't know why.
When they get outside they realize that Herrikhan made it like summer outside, so Holly is super weak from her melting heart, and Jeremy has to practically carry her to Central Park. They stop at a bench and Jeremy leaves her there so he can go find her animal friends to help them.
Then THE FUCKING DOLLS START TALKING! They tell their owners that Holly needs them and to run to her now! Even the parents go. This is so awesome and strange. If my doll started talking I would probably start crying and set it on fire.
Holly's animal friends are already on the job, because they went to Mr. Carroll's apartment. They tell him he's a jerk and Holly's going to die now, so he apologizes and follows them to the park. He gets there just as Herrikhan is taunting Holly about how he's going to kill everyone. Mr. Carroll puts Holly's locket back on her and goes up to Herrikhan and totally tries to choke him! Mr. Carroll is a badass and Herrikhan freaks out and gets really pissed. He makes the trees shake, which isn't that impressive.
All the kids show up with their dolls and watch the whole thing. Holly feels better now for no reason and tells Herrikhan that she loves him and forgives him for being a pervert and a psycho. Herrikhan can not stand the pain of being loved and disintegrates.
At this point, everyone loses their shit and starts hugging everybody. Santa shows up and is super proud of his daughter for defeating a villain the way everyone has always wished they could; by proving his evil plan obsolete. He invites her and her new boyfriend to come home, but they want to go make creepy dolls for more children. Everyone lives happily ever after.
Things I liked:
- Holly is sort of cheesy, but she's not dumb. She doesn't fold under blackmail, and I admire her for that.
- The illustrations throughout the book are beautiful.
- Holly's animal friends are pretty useful, even if they are predictable.
Things I didn't like:
- The future-telling box that amounted to nothing.
- Why did the dolls tell all those kids to run to the park if they weren't going to do anything to help?
- Holly's snow-heart problem is easily remedied too often and conveniently by magic that shouldn't exist in the mortal world.
- Holly accepts a room in Mr. Kleiner's boarding house. I thought she should have let the homeless kids sleep in there, and she could have slept outside since she needs the cold anyway. But nobody asked me.
Read more reviews of this book on LibraryThing.