Santa’s Little Helper is a fab read and something a little different for author H D Gordon. I don’t really want to say too much about the plot but I will have to try and not make it too spoilery.
The story revolves around 5 children – Manny, Michael, Emily, Benny & Tuck – all 4 or 5 yrs of age and from various families backgrounds which includes some issues such as domestic violence, single mother bringing up a child alone, a father that works away and a child whose parents think he has special needs. They make an interesting bunch of characters and I wasn’t the only one interested in them….. Out of the blue, each child receives a white box… and in that box is a red book that tells the story of the Elf that accompanies the book in the box. For some reason, when each child is given the gift…they all want to be as far away as possible from it but are each made to keep it in one way or another. Each child knows that this elf is not what it seems, its sinister smile broadens, it moves unaided when you’re asleep and there is a tangible sense of evil infecting each family….the children are scared as the elf terrorises each child…. And each child knows that the teeth hidden under the façade of a jolly face are used to eat more than candy canes… he eats children! And these 5 are his prey… will they make it to Christmas day?
So, I loved this book and it definitely had a Stephen King feel to it. I was a bit dubious about reading a book with 5yr old characters as the main focus but one thing the author is good at, is her younger characters - they all have an old soul feel to them and it’s clear to see how they would come to the attention of such evil. Their voices, feelings, thoughts and actions came across very well and they did indeed make for a great read. I loved the storyline and it is different to anything this author has done in the past but shows how she can put her hand to any genre. I liked the way the children’s chapters came across and were interspersed with chapters from their parents, giving the viewpoint of the child who was living the drama and the parent who was watching their child succumb to a living nightmare. We also got some good views of their home life which in some cases, is just as messed up as the situation they’re in. It all builds a very detailed picture of the way the evil affects each household. The Elf was a great way to inject the horror/suspense into the story, Elves are meant to be happy, cheery and super psyched for Christmas – well, you can forget that here – this elf is a force to be reckoned with and knows just how to pull on these children’s fears and the adults too. The atmosphere of the book is palpable and steadily gets darker & more sinister as each part passes, this is not a fluffy Christmas tale, it has horror, fear, anxiety, suspense and death all focussed around a group of kids that will hopefully beat their demons. Great read!