REVIEW: “The Christmas Abomination from Beyond the Back of the Stars” by Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt

Review of Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt, The Christmas Abomination from Beyond the Back of the Stars, Podcastle: 501 — Listen Online. Reviewed by Heather Rose Jones

Humor is hard. And when it doesn’t work for you, it’s hard to know if it doesn’t work or if it just doesn’t work for you. I get the impression that this story is part of a continuing holiday tradition, with references to the back-stories of characters like the boy mummy adopted by the eccentric American family. This installment is a slapstick humorous take on Lovecraftian-style horror, complete with elder gods and uncanny rituals to summon or dismiss them. All as part of a Christmas trip to an isolated Pacific island. The humor relied in part on the premise that bratty misbehaving children are inherently funny and that adults are inherently incompetent, which is also funny. It isn’t a bad story. The writing hangs together perfectly well, it was the right length for the amount of content, and the clever twist was neither out-of-the-blue nor over-telegraphed. But in the end, it didn’t work for me as humor. And I think that’s mostly because humor is hard and very individual.