The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig #BookReview

thegirlwhosavedxmasTitle: The Girl Who Saved Christmas
Author: Matt Haig
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 272 pages
Publication Details: November 3rd 2016 by Canongate Books
Genre(s): Children’s; Christmas
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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JOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF MAGIC

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

Review

This is the second Christmas Children’s book by  Matt Haig, the first being A Boy Called Christmas (which I haven’t read) so I almost didn’t request this one when I saw it on netgalley – I’m so glad I did. It’s a completely separate story.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas is a light-hearted tale set in Victorian London. Chimney-sweeper Amelia, once wrote a letter to Father Christmas which was so full of hope it boosted the magic of Christmas. But that was the year the trolls attacked, and almost ruined Christmas. Santa was a little preoccupied.

One year on and poor Amelia’s wish never came true, and her mother died, forcing Amelia to give up her beloved cat, Captain Soot, and enter Mr Creeper’s workhouse. Elsewhere in Elfhelm where Father Christmas is preparing for this years’ journey, but the spirit of Christmas is dwindling. Will the trolls attack again? Will his sleigh fly with such little hope in the air?

There is only one person who can help – the girl with the most Christmas spirit he has ever known, but little does he know that she has spent a year in a filthy workhouse, and is now in a dungeon after trying to escape. Can Amelia get her hope back and help Father Christmas save Christmas once more?

Of course she can!

This book was lots of fun and had a mixture of traditional Christmas tropes such as the sleigh needing hope/spirit to fly and also completely unique ideas which made it a lovely read. I loved the magical world that Haig has built here with the different kind of pixies and trolls in contrast to the bleakness of a Dickens-esque (the man himself even makes an appearance) Victorian London. It feels like an instant Christmas classic to me.

Amelia was a great protagonist with gusto,who never gave up. And I completely fell in love with Captain Soot, of course. The elves and pixies all had their own personalities and stories too, and they brought a lot of fun to the story. But the thing I loved most was definitely the illustrations. The simple pen drawings were amazing.

Haig’s humorous narration also shines through the pages of this story. There is a hint of sadness to his humour, but that’s what makes it so relatable.

unicorn rating 4

 

 

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Printer’s Devil Court by Susan Hill

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Title: Printer’s Devil Court
Author: Susan Hill
Series: N/A
Edition: Hardback, 128 pages
Publication Details: September 25th 2014 by Profile Books
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Nope! I bought it.

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A mysterious manuscript lands on the desk of the step-son of the late Dr Hugh Meredith, a country doctor with a prosperous and peaceful practice in a small English town. From the written account he has left behind, however, we learn that Meredith was haunted by events that took place years before, during his training as a junior doctor near London’s Fleet Street, in a neighbourhood virtually unchanged since Dickens’s times.

Living then in rented digs, Meredith gets to know two other young medics, who have been carrying out audacious and terrifying research and experiments. Now they need the help of another who must be a doctor capable of total discretion and strong nerves.

‘Remember that what you know you can never un-know. If you are afraid, then…’

Review

Printer’s Devil Court is a short novella from acclaimed horror writer Susan Hill. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Susan Hill’s books over the years, and this one was no exception, but I can’t help just wanting to talk about how pretty this edition is. It’s really stunning with its embossed dark red dust jacket. I love it!

The story is deserving of such a beautiful cover too, which is always good.

As with many of Susan Hill’s ghost stories, this one is set in the Victorian era and is instantly chilling and atmospheric.

It follows an ambitious young doctor and his medical student friends who share a house in Printer’s Devil Court. Unbeknownst to our protagonist-and all-round-good-guy Hugh Meredith, he swears himself to secrecy and is embroiled in some unsavoury experiments on the dead. In turn, he finds himself being haunted by one of the experiments gone wrong.

I love the way Susan Hill creates spooky atmospheres in her books, and in this one we are taken through dark, isolated streets and foggy cemeteries as we weave our way through the nitty-gritty of the story.

I’m not usually a huge fan of stories as short as this, but I think it really works for ghost stories. They don’t need to be drawn out so much as long as the spooky elements are built up well, and Susan Hill is a genius at that.

I thought this was an absolute perfect read for a dark and stormy night.

unicorn rating 4

Printer’s Devil Court is available to buy here from Waterstones where you can also download a preview.

The Verdict: Soulless – Gail Carriger

Cheap clothing is no excuse for killing a man! Click to view on Goodreads
Cheap clothing is no excuse for killing a man!
Click to view on Goodreads

Synopsis: First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

As I mentioned before, I don’t really know anything about Steampunk. Other than the fact that it’s everywhere at the moment, I like the clothes but would never be able to pull it off and that there seems to be a whole lot of what I can only describe as gold binocular type goggles and mechanical Blimps, or Glassicles and Dirigibles as I now know them to be (see, learning). That being said, I actually really enjoyed that element of the story. It brought a new dimension to your average ‘Paranormal Romance’ genre.

Soulless is basically a sort of Victorian mystery-cum-paranormal-romance in which Miss Alexia ‘I’m the one with no soul’ Tarabotti accidentally kills a feral, unregistered vampire with her parasol. Oh, how very uncouth! This results in her spending more time with Lord Maccon of BUR – The Bureau of Unnatural Registration – whose job it is to investigate such improper occurrences. Chaos and an unlikely romance ensues. Obviously.

After the initial LOLs from the almost farcical “Victorian” language Carriger uses,(can you image a vampire saying ‘she is trying to make a funny’? No, me neither) there’s actually a lot to like in this book. Lord Maccon for one. Hot, Scottish (‘of all barbaric places’) Werewolf type who I like to picture as Simon from Biffy Clyro:

Simon 'Sexy Jesus' Neil AKA Lord Maccon.
Simon ‘Sexy Jesus’ Neil AKA Lord Maccon.

AND we later come across a character named Biffy! Coincidence? I think not!

The fact that pale girls with some flesh on their bones are the desirable ones is also a confidence booster, good work Victorians. And well , it’s all pretty funny really. I’m still not entirely sure if I was laughing at it, or with it. Probably a bit of both, but either way it brought a smile to my face.

I made some really in-depth review notes for your perusal:

Don't call him your mistress!!!
Don’t call him your mistress!!!
Excellent Vocab!
Excellent Vocab!
Angry-sticking-up-for-his-but-not-his-woman-hot-Werewolf-action!
Angry-sticking-up-for-his-but-not-his-woman-hot-Werewolf-action!

I’ll definitely have a go on the next in the series! I give it 4 Unicorns. (Out of 5 Unicorns, BTW)

Soulless is published by Orbit.

A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves and Parasols?

I’m in one of those moods where I can’t decide what I want to do: Go out; stay in; watch something; read something; do some housework…I’m annoying myself!

So I just picked up Soulless by Gail Carriger which I’ve had lying around for months and from the first chapter all I can say is LOL. It’s already hilariously bad, which by the way, is one of my favourite genres. Is this Steampunk? apparently it is…I can’t say I really understand the whole Steampunk thing but nevertheless I have a feeling that this is going to be either complete trashy brilliance or absolute utter bollocks.

See for yourself…

To put the pudding in the puff: she had retreated to the library, her favourite sanctuary in any house, only to happen upon an unexpected vampire.

She glared at the vampire.

For his part, the vampire seemed to feel that their encounter had improved his ball experience immeasurably. For there she sat, without escort, in a low-necked ball gown.

Oh, and now the vampire is dead. That was quick. (Not a spoiler – it’s in the blurb!)

We have also just encountered Lord Maccon, a (probably) hot werewolf with a scottish accent. Pretty much anyone with a Scottish accent is hot, right? And now I’m picturing Fit Hemsworth in Snow White and the Huntsman. Nice.

I’m not sure why I’m only reading books with Lords in lately, or for that matter only ones with young ladies in exceptional attire on the covers.

You just wait for my The Selection/Elite rant…just saying.