Book Review: SANTA CLAUS SAVES THE WORLD by Robert Devereaux

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I’ve been reviewing and plugging Robert Devereaux’s work since I reviewed his masterful Santa Steps Out way back in 2000. I’ve given his books books as Christmas gifts to I don’t know how many folks, and pointed folks toward them during that season nearly every year on my blog. I even read all of Santa Steps Out out loud to my girlfriend. There are good reasons for all that attention, and those reasons are definitely on display in Devereaux’s latest, Santa Claus Saves The World.

I need to point out that these books are a series and follow a definite chronology. Those new to Devereaux’s Santa should definitely read Santa Steps Out (which I reviewed here) and Santa Claus Conquers The Homophobes (reviewed here) before reading this one. In the first book, Santa steps out on his beloved wife, having a torrid affair with the Tooth Fairy, and all sorts of mayhem and wonder result. In the second book, Santa becomes concerned about all the hatred in the world leveled at gay people and takes definitive action to put an end to it. Santa Claus Saves The World is a much shorter book (a novella, actually), and serves as an open-ended coda of sorts to the earlier works.

It does, of course, tell its own tale. This time, Santa and his flock (and allies ranging from Aphrodite to God himself) take it upon themselves to fix humanity itself, to banish all the horrible and nagging imperfections in our basic psyches and make the world the place of wonder it has the potential to be. This involves a lot of hard work by Santa and his elves, and a lot of hardcore fucking. Folks already familiar with the series know very well by now that Devereaux’s stories are violent and profane, in your face, and brilliantly written. They also elevate the carnal to a wonderful spiritual level, a celebration of love and of  life itself. If you’re easily offended, stay the hell away from his work, but if you can enjoy (or at least tolerate) seeing beloved childhood mythical figures engaging in the wildest, most pornographic sexual activities imaginable (and some stark, inventive violence), you’ll be rewarded with some incredible, thought-provoking fiction. As he puts it in his author’s bio, “…as long as one’s writing illuminates characters in all their kinks, quirks, kindnesses, and extremes, the imagination must be free to explore nasty places as well as nice, or what’s the point?” Robert Devereaux’s imagination explores a lot.

I enjoyed this book, but it’s definitely a pleasure for folks who’ve visited this North Pole before. The beloved characters from the earlier books are here, but the full development of their personalities already occurred in the first two books, and the narrative velocity of this shorter tale doesn’t allow much backpedaling to explain who they are or what happened to them before this new adventure. Reading this book alone will spoil the previous tales in a big way. But if you read the trilogy in order, this won’t be an issue; you’ll know these people very well by the time you crack this book’s cover.

Read Robert Devereaux’s Santa tales, they will entertain and challenge you, and may even make you open your eyes a bit more.

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Want To Enjoy A Sacred, Raunchy Holiday Season?

‘Tis the season to remind folks of a holiday staple around the Byrdcave, the Santa books of Robert Devereaux. These incredible works of fantasy are both moving and filthy, sacred and profane, and guaranteed to awaken parts of your brain you might not even be aware of.

The first, Santa Steps Out, has been out of print lo these many years, but Devereaux recently regained the rights and has made it available as a Kindle download at Amazon. The second, Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes, is available in paperback and Kindle format.

I reviewed both here, and you can read the entries at:

Santa Steps Out

Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes

An evil elf also recently told me there’s a third Santa book on the way, and a likely hardcopy set of all three by next Christmas.

Santa Claus Conquers The Homophobes

Not long ago, I shared my review (and recommendation) of a great and blessed bit of splatterpunk profanity called Santa Steps Out, by a writer named Robert Devereaux. I got my hands on the Leisure paperback of that book back in 2000, and loved it so much I gave it as a Christmas gift to all my closest friends.

As last Christmas neared, I decided to point other folks toward the book by putting my old Amazon review on the blog. While visiting the book’s page on Amazon, I made two discoveries, one bad, one good.

The bad was that the book is no longer in print. [UPDATE: As of Dec 2020, the book is available from Amazon as a Kindle download] At the time, I think there were some reasonably priced used copies listed, but I just checked and saw that the only available copies on Amazon are all priced to screw the buyer enrich the seller. Searching Alibris, I found pretty much the same, but doing a search on Google Shopping, I managed to find some reasonably priced copies for under $15, including a “worn” copy at Powells for $2.50. So if you want to read this book, with a bit of detective work you can find a copy without buying a pool table for some schmo. Hopefully Devereaux will find a new publisher for it, or at the very least take advantage of the many print-on-demand possibilities available to make the book more easily available.

The good discovery was that Devereaux has published a sequel, Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes. I immediately ordered it, just finished reading it, and can recommend it almost as highly as the first book.

In this tale, Santa and his holy brood become disgusted at the hatred and violence being perpetrated, in the name of the sacred, upon those born with homosexual proclivities, and they decide to take action. To go into any real detail would rob you of the book’s many, many pleasures, but rest assured it’s a rousing story, masterfully told, full of wit and wisdom, and consistently moving.

This book isn’t nearly as profane and transgressive as the first (and may therefore be an easier read for those with tender sensibilities), but it is full of notions that challenge the status quo in forthright and rich ways. Poppy Z. Brite said about the first book “The only two rules in Santa Steps Out are that everything is sacred and nothing is sacred,” and that is absolutely true about both books. They boldly rip apart the things civilized folk consider proper and sacred, but at the same time wholeheartedly embrace that which is truly sacred, both in the religious sense and the humanistic.

Devereaux is a wonderful writer, and constantly amazes with his inventiveness. His treatment of what you might call the mechanics of wonder, the way magic actually works in his literary world, is earthy in its matter-of-factness and lovely in its effects. His characters are full-bodied and layered, his depiction of the sacred both accessible and transcendent, and his allowance for redemption for any and all entities, no matter how saddled by personal weakness they may be, is more truly spiritual than any boxset of Touched By An Angel could ever be.

Santa Steps Out and Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes are masterworks of fantasy and sacred fictions. Devereaux has crafted a literary universe unlike anything else on the shelves, and it’s a universe I’ll revisit any chance I get.

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