The second kids’ book by Dean Koontz, which like the first, 1988’s ODDKINS, was illustrated by Phil Parks. Koontz’s ambitions here weren’t exactly modest: the front cover flap of the hardcover edition promises a “contemporary masterpiece that is destined to take its place beside THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and A CHRISTMAS CAROL as a perennial Yuletide favorite.”
Like THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, SANTA’S TWIN is related in the form of a long poem. It’s about Santa Claus’ evil twin brother, who embarks on a joyride in Santa’s sleigh one Christmas Eve. The Evil twin’s first stop is the home of young Charlotte and Emily, who are awakened by his mischief in their living room, where among other malicious acts he’s rearranging the girls’ presents: “He’s got a collection of gift replacements/taken from dumps, sewers and basements.”
Not to worry, though, because Charlotte and Emily stand firm against the scoundrel: “He’s meaner than flu, toothaches, blisters/But they’re tough too--they’re sisters.” They manage to subdue and tie him up, then hitch a ride back to the North Pole courtesy of Santa’s accommodating reindeer.
At this point the tale, reasonably amusing
and mean-spirited for its first half, fizzles out in the expected
maudlin resolution. Yes, Santa’s Twin is made to see the error of his
ways, and yes, all the wrongs he committed are made right in time for
Christmas morning. While I freely admit my bias against this sort of
fare, the fact is there’s a reason Koontz is known as a writer of horror
fiction: he does darkness quite well, being far less adept with
sweetness and light.