Audiobook Review: When Elves Attack by Tim Dorsey

4 11 2011

When Elves Attack: A Joyous Christmas Greeting from the Criminal Nutbars of the Sunshine State by Tim Dorsey

Read by Oliver Wyman

Harper Audio

Length: 5 Hrs 5 Mins

Genre: Florida Comic Thriller

Quick Thoughts: When Elves Attack is the perfect present to fans of Tim Dorsey’s Serge A Storms series, giving us everything we have grown to love about the antics of Serge and his cohorts, and adding to that the spirit of the Holidays with hilarious and heartfelt results.

Grade: A

Throughout much of my 20’s I was one of those grinchy, bah-humbugging Christmas’s grouches that seem to become more and more prevalent. Much of the wonder and fun of Christmas was lost on me. I was single, unmarried, and my siblings were all starting there own families, so I was lucky to receive a few sympathy gifts and an invite to my sister’s traditional Christmas day shenanigan’s of which the best part was her lasagna.  To make matters worse, most of my 20’s was spent working as a retail manager where they started playing the Christmas music November 1st on a loop of which is fine for a quick stop, but mind numbingly annoying after a 12 hour shift.  That all changed about 10 years ago, when I changed careers, and I began working with special needs adults. I realized that viewing Christmas through their eyes made all the difference. Seeing the joy as they see Santa riding in on the Fire Truck, and opening their presents Christmas morning turned me from Scroogish ways, and allowed my heart to grow three sizes bigger. So, despite it being only the first week of November, I was excited to take on my first Holiday audiobook listen. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the audiobook was written by one of my favorite authors and featuring some of my favorite characters, Serge Storms and Coleman, as well as a variety of the colorful Florida Nutbars that have brought me so many laugh out loud moments in this series.

If you are not familiar with Serge A. Storms, you are missing one of the best literary characters out there. Serge is an utterly insane, serial killing Floridaphile, who together with his drug raddled, slow witted sidekick Coleman gets involved in a yearly yarn. Now, despite his killing sprees Serge is a highly likable character, unless you are a rude, abusive lout who violates one of the many off kilter rules of Serge’s twisted civility. Each year, Serge becomes obsessed about some Florida institution, like NASA, hurricanes, Spring Break, etc. and while enjoying his rampage through the Sunshine State, takes out those who hurt or exploit something he loves in complex and creative ways. In many ways, experiencing Christmas through Serge’s almost childlike, twisted perspective is a great way to truly appreciate the Holiday. In When Elves Attack, Serge and Coleman go on a mission to end the media hyped "War on Christmas" by doing Christmas "Big" and this leads to lots of hijinks and funny moments. Yet the true heart of the story is Serge attempting to learn how to be a family by moving onto Triggerfish Lane, and emulating his hero, the low key, conflict phobic family-man Jim Davenport. While not as madcap as some of his previous novels, Dorsey brings his A game in a tighter, more uplifting tale that is still full of his clever uses of Serge’s mania. In many ways, a Tim Dorsey novel reminds me of some of the best written Seinfeld episodes, where seemingly random events merge together in a perfect ending that you chide yourself for not seeing coming. What really won me over was the ending of the tale, full of the childlike joys of the season, and filled with characters we have grown to love. When Elves Attack is the perfect present to fans of the Series, giving us everything we have grown to love about the antics of Serge and his cohorts, and adding to that the spirit of the Holidays.

One of the joys of any Serge novel is experiencing it through the voice of Oliver Wyman. From the opening moments, when Wyman takes on his old lady persona and has Edith Grabowski announcing she has given up sex, I couldn’t help but laugh. Wyman has used his voice to help us connect with these characters so well, that each time I heard a reoccurring character introduced, in Wyman’s chosen voice, I would have a Norm from Cheers moment, wanting to applaud their entry shouting out their name. There is just something special about returning to a beloved series, with a narrator you know is also a fan, who pulls out all the stops to do justice to the writing. When Elves Attack is a hilarious, slapstick Christmas Adventure that is full of heart and allows you to experience Christmas through the childlike eyes of our favorite serial killer.




4 responses

8 11 2011

Thanks for the great review, Oh Guilded Ear! I was looking for something to put on my site to tallk about the visit by Tim Dorsey to Vero Beach Book Center tonight and your article is perfect! Thanks for expressing all the fun and magic so well and hope it is ok if I repost it! Wishing you and yours a magical holiday season. Once it hits November, it will be Christmas morning before we know it!! :^)

8 11 2011

Woops! Sorry, Oh Guilded EarLOBE! I was thinking of Goldfinger, I guess! Thank you again!! (*;*)

22 11 2011
Squeak (@AkChocoholic)

Do you think a person that isn’t familiar with the Serge Storm series would still like this book? I was thinking of getting it as a fun Christmas read, but if you have to be familiar with all the players for it to make sense, then I might pass.

Dorothy – The Alaskan Bookie
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Email ~ Squeak.ak (at)

23 11 2011

The characters are pretty easy to catch on to, and you really wouldn’t miss much by reading this before the others. Most of the books could be read as stabdalones, it’s just fun to recognize reoccurring characters.

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