Thursday, 22 December 2016

Book Review: Slade House - David Mitchell

Turn down Slade Alley - narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you're looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn't quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.
A stranger greets you and invites you inside. At first, you won't want to leave. Later, you'll find that you can't.
This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and comes to its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe'en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a 'guest' is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs . . .
(source: Amazon

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Folklore: Krampus - Saint Nicholas' Evil Counterpart?

(image source: Wikipedia)

In Austria we traditionally celebrate Saint Nicholas Day on 6th December. Having grown up believing that the Christkind, baby Jesus, delivers presents on Christmas Eve, Saint Nicholas is the closest to Santa Claus I will ever get. At home, the two were not that different. People would dress up as Saint Nicholas and visit schools or even homes. Much like Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas had a large book where he kept track of whether you had been naughty or nice. If you had been nice you got a bag of gifts, usually containing nuts, oranges, gingerbread, and chocolates. But if you had been naughty his companion, Krampus, would threaten you with his bundle of birch sticks. Even though the Krampus I encountered never actually whipped any of the children, the threat and playful whack with the birch was enough to drive home the message. Krampus was not to be trifled with, and the legend behind him is even more disturbing.