Review: Return of the Living Elves by Brian Asman

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When Christmas supply warehouse manager Jimmy tries to help new employee Tommy find a last-minute gift for his girlfriend, they accidentally unleash a long-forgotten and very seasonal genetic experiment with a taste for human flesh. As elf-zombie hybrids take over the small town of Pine Canyon, California, Jimmy fights to survive alongside a Christpunk named Landfill, and a mysterious, PTSD-stricken soldier. Hold onto your stockings because the goddamn elves are back, baby!

“This Yuletide-themed homage to one of the greatest zombie films ever made is a rollicking good time. Brian Asman delivers laughs and gory thrills galore in a book sure to put you in the holiday spirit–if you don’t get disemboweled first. Eat the fruitcake and take the ride.” –Bryan Smith, author of 68 Kill

“With ‘Return of the Living Elves,’ Brian Asman shows he’s the funniest, goriest, scariest comedy-horror creator this side of James Gunn. If you loved ‘Man, F*ck This House’ (and you should love ‘Man, F*ck This House’), you’re going to absolutely flip for this one.”- Nick Kolakowski, author of Absolute Unit and Love & Bullets 


When The Brian Asman reaches out and asks if you are interested in reviewing his new Christmas novella, Return of the Living Dead, the only appropriate answer is “Heck Yeah!” I received this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

I have reviewed every Brian Asman book, and I can say the best part about reading his books is that he never does the same thing twice. His last novella, Man, Fuck this House, has become an internet sensation, and is part ghost story, part kaiju story. Nunchuck City is an action story inspired by video games like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage. Jailbroke is a sci-fi story about robots who have found consciousness. His first novella, I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today, about the accidental summoning of a demon who looks a lot like Kevin Smith, is the closest to Return of the Living Elves, but this is only because both of them are more horror titles than any of his other books.

I really do not have to go into any description but Return of the Living Elves is a Christmas twist on The Return of the Living Dead. That should be enough to entice any reader. Over the years, I had only seen bits and pieces of The Return of the Living Dead, but I had never watched the entire thing at one time until I was preparing to read this novella. I had definitely missed out on a great schlocky 80s horror movie. When I started reading this novella with the movie fresh in my mind, I could see the same beats in the opening. This made me fall into the plot quicker than if I had not watched the movie before I started reading. I loved all of the twists that Asman put into the plot to make it all about Christmas. 

The humor and puns are the best thing about Brian Asman’s writing. He writes funny and clever characters, scenes, and dialogue. His transformation of The Return of the Living Dead into a Christmas story, but also adding a deeper layer of Christmas and Santa Claus lore, makes this more than just a beat for beat rewriting of the movie. The best parts of this are the times he twists away from the plot of the movie just enough for us to see how relentlessly funny Asman is. 

I cannot be a big enough fan of Brian Asman and his books. Even though I never know what type of book he is going to write next, I do know it is going to be funny, clever, and worth recommending to all of my friends. Return of the Living Elves is no different. The only thing that I would suggest is to watch The Return of the Living Dead before you read the book, because having the movie and characters fresh in your mind enhances the entire experience.

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