Tom Holt,
Little People
(Orbit, 2002)

Elves: kindly workaholic facilitators of Christmas cheer or profane cigar chomping embodiments of nastiness? In Tom Holt's Little People, the elves have diverse personalities -- one could almost say split personalities -- and all that is certain is that seeing one is devastating to perceived sanity.

Mike was 8 years old when he saw his first elf. He learned quickly that sharing this vision with others resulted in punishment and ridicule. So he kept his own counsel until the unlikely acquisition of a girlfriend, the appropriately named Cruella. Strangely, Holt's recent books seem to focus on a luckless underachiever paired with a whiny love interest of questionable appeal.

Holt's brand of British humor rarely hits a roadblock, and Little People is no exception. It flows flawlessly through a flurry of elf allusions. (Remember the evil stepfather? He built a fortune through his shoe factory....)

Even with the population of miniature green faces, this is Mike's story, and it is a quest of good versus evil. Will he choose responsibility over a pampered elvish lifestyle? Can the wicked and the greedy be overcome through friendship and shoe production materials? Will love triumph across lost years and multiple spatial dimensions?

Holt's intriguing concept of each elf's geographically opposite personality, paired with recurring and memorable human characters, contribute to a well-rendered tall tale. Little People is another fine addition to the Holt collection of twisted modern fairy tales.

- Rambles
written by Julie Bowerman
published 17 July 2004

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