Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 31 Pages
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Blurb: Freshly out of college, shy and introverted Brian Preston travels from LA to Budapest to teach English, ready to embrace life and spread his wings. It’s early December, and the air is heavy with the scent of roasting chestnuts. Getting involved with his new roommate, native Hungarian Zoli Park, promises to be the adventure Brian always wanted. But all is not as it seems, and Brian might find himself in the arms of Krampusz, demonic companion to St. Nick, who punishes bad boys.
Review: Being unaware of exactly what a “krampusz” is, I had no expectations of some fierce creature taking center stage going into this story. And, in fact, while it was a nice side note, I ended the story not really understanding why this Hungarian fable was the fodder for the story’s title. Perhaps I missed something vital, but usually a Lou Harper story is so well done that I never am at a loss of understanding or for words of praise. But this short Christmas story did not seem to have the usual humor or pacing that this author is so adept at.
The story revolves around a shy and nerdy college grad, Brian, traveling clear across the world to a teaching job, and meeting his new roommate for the first time. Upon first sight, Zoll has an instant harsh reaction to Brian, and it makes for awkwardness between them. After close questioning of where Brian has lived before, Zoll seems to relax and the instant spark between the two men springs to the fore.
The story was sweet and the intimate moments very well done. But somehow I could not really get a fix on Zoll’s character. I rarely base a review on the nebulous “did not connect with the characters” refrain that some reviewers rely on, but this time I must say that is exactly why I could not seem to invest in this short story. Brian was really lovely, shy and unassuming, yet yearning to be more bold and longing for adventure. Zoll, on the other hand, was angry—and to hold onto the pain he felt years before until it likened itself to a nasty grudge was just a bit unsettling to read. In the end, there was not enough story for me to invest in but even so, this author is so talented that she did deliver a sweet love story that made Krampusz a nice addition to the Advent calendar package, Celebrate!
You can buy Krampusz here: