I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this ebook for two reasons. It was right before Halloween and it was the first time I had ever gotten an advance copy of a book to review. I have a confession to make though. When I read the book I didn't start with an entirely open mind. I thought the title was a little cheesy and the book would be too.
I was wrong. Very wrong actually.
Here is the book description:
He shows up in a white box, with a bright red book under his arm... He wears a jolly grin and hat, a suit with gold bells and green yarn... He watches you for Santa, or so his red book claims... But though his grin is jolly, he's not here for fun and games...
The children have been chosen, such precious little souls they are... And may the Gods be with them, if they wish to make it very far... For Santa's Little Helper does not say, but knows important things... He knows when you've been bad or good, and what monsters stalk your dreams... He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake...He's picking out his presents...He's got some souls to take.
H. D. Gordon explained that the idea for Santa's Little Helper from Elf on the Shelf. So when I started the book, I was expecting the elf doll to stay a doll. Santa's Little Helper is far more sophisticated and versatile than that. He has powers like shapeshifting. He also has a true form that is scary as hell.
The story follows how the elf chooses four children and their families. The elf doesn't just attack but behaves like a mental and emotional terrorist in a cat and mouse game. The children that he chooses have a complex family life that sometimes works in their favor and sometimes works in favor of the elf.
While the elf's target is the children, five year olds cannot fight evil by themselves. The children confide in their teacher, their siblings, and their parents in an effort to get help to fight Santa's Little Helper. This is a horror story but it is also about the bonds of family and how the love and sacrifice of parents is often what saves the lives of children. Emphasis on the word sacrifice.
Of the four families, the story about the daughter and her mother dealing with an alcoholic abusive husband and father was my favorite. While all the stories dealt with complex human emotions, this one dealt with what happens when human beings become the monster. At times it was hard to know who was scarier, the killer elf or the abusive man.
Gordon also manages to weaves in philosophical issues such as the moral issue of lying to kids about Santa Claus, what evil is, the nature of God and the Devil, and the significance of losing your childhood innocence.
Simply put, this story is not just about a killer elf doll. It is about many other things as well. Still I'm glad to have read it now before December when I get out the Elf on the Shelf doll. As creepy as this book was, I still will be an Elf on the Shelf mom.
Speaking of Elf on the Shelf, I do worry a bit that H. D. Gordon might run into some copyright issues with this book. In the novel, there is a book that tells a similar background story for the elf doll. At one point Gordon describes the elf doll as being on a shelf. I certainly hope Gordon never has any problems with this.
Lastly, as I read this book I couldn't help but think it would make a really great horror movie. My rating is
The book goes on sale at Amazon on Halloween. I was given an advance copy of the book for an honest review. No other compensation was recieved.