Written by: Matt Molgaard
I’m not much of a romantic. It’s just not in my bones, and as a result, I can’t relate all too well to romantic fiction. Christmas Past is most definitely a piece of romantic fiction, but it’s well decorated by thrilling hunts and violent encounters. And, to be honest it reminds me an awful lot of another well-established entertainment brand that I’m deeply fond of: Hellboy.
This holiday love-and-war tale sees a pair of Para-investigators tracking a serial killing vampire. The mysterious villain tends to target street collectors and Hannah and Brodie have gone undercover to ensnare this vile creature. Hannah’s the bait, Brodie’s the muscle. He’s also a werewolf, and Hannah happens to boast a psychic gift of her own.
The intrigue in the matching of these specific agents (they both work for a “special” branch of the government, shall we say) comes in their shared history. Christmas, one year ago, Brodie walked out on Hannah… from lover to ghost. The two haven’t shared much contact in the year that’s unfolded since, and Hannah’s holding (rightfully) a grudge, while Brodie’s throwing caution to the wind in his attempts win back her affection. Arthur utilizes an approach I wouldn’t typically find enjoyable, but this one breaks the rules a bit, and the close connection between the story’s focal figures paves a path for thorough character exploration. Readers really get a chance to get to know these two.
Thanks to the bickering between Hannah and Brodie as well as the fact that they both work for an organization that employs monsters to hunt other…nasty monsters , Christmas Past clearly hearkens back to Mike Mignola’s, Hellboy. It’s really easy to see Brodie as Hellboy, and Hannah as Liz Sherman. I found these parallels to be quite endearing (my admiration of Hellboy is becoming redundant), even despite the overabundance of borderline erotic romance that festers, bookended by a couple of awesome exchanges with an unorthodox breed of bloodsucker. This bastard flies, and when his wings spread, and Brodie pursues, it’s real easy to forget all the mushy hoopla.
Keri’s nice and descriptive, and really enables readers to see this story unfold. Her understanding of Christmas atmosphere is also deeply appreciated and well-illustrated in the small details. The description of freezing flesh under the thin fabric of an elves costume, the sprinkle of light snow as it swirls in the evening breeze. She nails the minors, which only works to empower those details.
This is another fun read produced by the Wolfsbane and Mistletoe anthology that stands alongside the books other heavy hitters.