Review Index

ROBERT DEVEREAUX (Booklocker; 2008) 

Here it is, the long-in-coming sequel to Robert Devereaux’s Yuletide classic SANTA STEPS OUT (1998).  In that perverse masterwork Santa Claus was seduced by the Tooth Fairy, setting in motion a series of outrages that included Mrs. Claus stripping down and offering herself to Santa’s elves, the Easter Bunny turning into a horny bastard, and a woman named Rachel and her young daughter Wendy becoming involved with Santa, just as he becomes aware of his true identity as Pan, the God of debauchery.  It all gets so out of hand that eventually God himself, a.k.a. Zeus, steps in to straighten things out by turning the Easter Bunny infertile, restricting the Tooth Fairy from Santa’s presence, and encouraging Santa to enjoy a polygamous marriage with Mrs. Claus and Rachel, with Wendy as their adopted daughter.

     SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE HOMOPHOBES picks up several years later, with Santa and his extended family basking in the glow of the “best Christmas ever.”  But Wendy, who can see into the futures of the world’s children, is upset; she’s foreseen the suicide of a gay child named Jamie Stratton due to homophobia. 

     In an effort to cheer Wendy up Santa gets in touch with Zeus, who sends down Michael, an archangel, to assist in making those around Jamie Stratton become more tolerant.  The Easter Bunny’s help is also sought in this endeavor, although Santa is understandably a little uncomfortable around him after the events of the previous novel.

     But their efforts at saving Jamie, while successful, don’t satisfy Wendy, who wants to stamp out homophobia entirely.  Obviously that’s a mighty tall order, but Santa agrees to give it a try.

     Arrayed against him is the Tooth Fairy, who has several grotesque assistants she sends out to kill children and bring back their remains for her to devour.  She also dispatches a spy to keep watch on Santa’s activities, in the hope that he’ll leave an opening for her to thwart his do-gooding.  Just as bad if not worse is Santa’s own alter-ego Pan, who continues to torment him.

     The sexual content of SANTA STEPS OUT is largely expunged from this sequel, which also contains a none-too-subtle message about tolerance.  It won me over, however, with its unfailingly imaginative narrative and lively prose.  It seems the subject of Santa Claus inspires Robert Devereaux in a way that others don’t.  This book may be preachy, but it’s also exciting and unpredictable--and, in the manner of past Robert Devereaux novels like DEADWEIGHT and DEADOLESCENCE, utterly nuts form start to finish (did I mention nose-picking is another of the book’s major themes?).  And while it may not be the porny romp its predecessor was, it’s very much an adults-only read.

     Speaking off which, it’s the adult angle that really makes SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE HOMOPHOBES intriguing and unprecedented.  Santa in this book finds that in attempting to eradicate homophobia he has to venture into the world of grown-ups, territory he knows very little about.  That makes this one of the only Christmas themed stories that’s centered not on children but their elders--and isn’t concerned with the “spirit of Christmas” but with real-world issues.  It’s certainly the first-ever novel to pit Santa Claus against the evils of homophobia, with nose-picking and cannibalism thrown into the mix.