Ryan, Brittney. 2004. The Legend of Holly Claus.
The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan is a fantasy novel loosely set in Victorian America; its two main locales being the fantasy world FOREVER where all IMMORTALS dwell and Victorian America—primarily New York City. Christopher Carroll is a young poor boy who surprises everyone—especially Santa Claus—when instead of asking Santa to bring him what he wants, he asks Santa what he most wants. Santa is moved to tears, and him and his wife, Viviana, wish for a child. Holly Claus is born a year later. Of course SANTA and his accompanying friends and relations do not live in the “real world” that you can see on a map. They are residents of FOREVER a land built on glaciers of jewels. Only the immortal can enter the gates of FOREVER and Santa or Nicholas Claus reigns as king of this land. FOREVER land is your typical magical kingdom. Everything is true, good, pure, and beautiful…and there is no fear in the kingdom. Love reigns supreme in the kingdom. Mortals can work their way into FOREVER by being loving, compassionate, selfless, generous people while on earth. Of course, every novel—or fantasy novel at least—needs a villain. Herrikhan is your typical evil villain. He’s full of hate, greed, pride…and his main goals in life are to conquer the world and make people worship him. Herrikhan is in bondage to the underworld—far below the depths of the world. He can roam the mortal realm for small periods of time, but he is restricted from entering FOREVER. Herrikhan only has power where there is fear. To make a long story short, reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty, Holly is cursed by Herrikhan and given a heart of snow to “protect” her perfect, pure, loving heart until he can marry her and gain for himself a get out of hell free card. There are plenty of fairies and magical/fantasy creatures who are Holly’s friends and companions. Eventually, Holly joins the mortal world for an adventure where she knows she will eventually have a showdown with Herrikhan who has the magical power to appear in whatever form he wants. While having her mortal adventure she meets and falls in love with Christopher who is partly responsible—magically speaking—for her existence. Of course all ends happily ever after with all curses being broken. Herrikhan is defeated/destroyed/obliterated by the power of selfless pure love. While the novel borders on being sickenly sweet in places—where abstract qualities take on a life/personality of their own (LOVE, FEAR, GOOD, EVIL, etc.), I enjoyed it overall. I thought that while certain aspects of the novel were predictable, there remained some surprise elements. The book will appeal most to readers of fantasy. There are talking animals, goblins, fairies, fauns, centaurs, magical charms and spells, evil curses, wizards, etc. It is 500+ pages long. So it will take a dedicated reader. But I thought it was overall a good story. Not perfect, but entertaining. I could see this book being brought either to the theatre or as a made-for-tv movie.