FIVE EQUALS ONE, VOL. 1 by Mary Korte


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Korte (A Girl Doesn't Need To Go To College, But…But…But…, 2014, etc.) offers a novel about a very different kind of Santa Claus.

This fast-paced, playful tale focuses on the North Pole Village and its most famous resident. This version of Santa is as kindly and cheerful as the folkloric one, but he’s also keeping a secret from the rest of the world: his ethnicity changes on a regular basis. His wife, Mitzi, constantly worries that this fact will be discovered and revealed; sometimes she wishes that it would, just so the tension of concealment would be gone. The secret bubbles beneath the surface of Korte’s book as multiple plots converge on the year’s Christmas Season Blessing Day ceremonies. It’s revealed that Mitzi has been married to Santa for nearly half a century, but before that, she grew up in an abusive household, which Korte vividly evokes in a series of well-deployed flashbacks. As a result, she has a cautious soul, a nagging inner voice of doubt she refers to as her “nattering Tomacita.” She embarks upon a series of unexpected adventures, away from Santa and her settled life, and these are the amusing and dramatic high points of the book. The author also makes easy reading out of Santa’s bewilderment back home (“Are you hiking across Siberia? Or maybe riding an elephant on some African safari? Did you join a commune somewhere in the States?”). Santa lives near Jingle-Jangle Mountain, which is known to Sleigh Valley High junior Hunter Swift Bear’s people as Mount Koyukon. But although Hunter has fond memories of his grandfather, who taught him his people’s ways, he’s more interested in North Pole High sophomore Shelly Jasselton. Korte adroitly balances their story against the Clauses’ main tale. The overall narrative has a disjointed but playful voice, with characters routinely using expressions such as “taffy tarnation,” “fiddling nutcrackers,” “sooty bricks,” or “shimmering icicles.” It ends with a low-key cliffhanger that will leave readers curious to move on to the next volume.

A lighthearted North Pole fantasy with some darker undertones.

Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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