📑Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand 🎄
"On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.
And then she died.Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.
But this year, everything is about to change. . . ." - From Goodreads
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved reading books that match the season/holiday, so I really wanted to read something inspired by the holiday/Christmas season. Naturally, when I came upon The Afterlife of Holly Chase on Goodreads, I had to pick it up. I’ve only ever read one other book by Cynthia Hand (My Lady Jane) but I loved that one so much, I knew I could take my chance with Holly Chase.
The Afterlife of Holly Chase is not so much a retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” but it is heavily inspired by it. And when I say “heavily inspired” I mean, imagine if the events of A Christmas Carol were to happen every year, to different misers, headed by an international organization called “Project Scrooge.” Basically, take the idea of A Christmas Carol and make it a real thing, an actual organization that worked throughout the year to convince selfish, terrible people to be better.
I loved it. I loved almost everything about it. I, personally really enjoy A Christmas Carol (okay, okay, maybe I’m thinking about “A Muppet's Christmas Carol”), and I have a soft spot for things like Christmas and people who are selfish reinventing themselves, getting second chances if you will. I knew I would like this book from the synopsis, mostly because I loved the idea that there is this secret organization all around the world that picks one person that could have a positive impact on the rest of the world, if only they would stop being so terrible. It works with the idea of the butterfly effect, how one little change, one little action can have an effect on so many bigger things.
As expected, Holly at the start off this story is not a good person. She is selfish, mean to those ‘beneath’ her, shallow, materialistic, all qualities that make her the perfect Scrooge. She is not a likable character, but to a certain degree you feel a little sympathy (empathy?) towards her, you know she is the way she is because of the death of her mother, and the fact that her stepmother basically molded her in her image. Holly saw her stepmother as a role mode, someone who was strong, who knew what she wanted and how to get it, who wouldn’t get hurt. Through her Holly convinces herself that she might not be nice, but she was not a bad person either. Which is where the idea of whether this generation would believe/change if ghosts of ‘Christmases past, present, and future’ tried to show them the error of their ways comes in. Would you continue to do what you’re doing, or change? The story explores the idea of belief in a generation that struggles with it, with Holly (not spoiler because it’s in the synopsis) playing the part of disbelief becoming part of Project Scrooge due to her refusal to change (and subsequent death).
Everyone knows I have a soft spot for retellings, inspirations, all those lovely things, so The Afterlife of Holly Chase won me over by being a classic story told in a modern way. It’s cheesy and there are some things that don’t work: for example, occasionally Holly’s personality is just grating, there is it Insta-love makes you just roll your eyes, there is a lot of things left unexplained, and sometimes the references to A Christmas Carol get to be a little too much, but somehow the story still works at the end. I could talk more about the secondary characters, the setting an atmosphere, the relationships, the other ghosts of Christmas, etc. But I wont, because this review is getting long.
It works because, at the end of the day, it is as advertised: a well written Christmas story , it’s the story of a person who gets the chance to redeem themselves and does, it’s that simple. I don’t know if it’s because the book fit the Christmas theme or because, you know, not to detract from the positive qualities of the book itself, I was in the mood for something with a feel-good happy ending, but I really enjoyed it.
I recommend it for anyone who’s looking for a typical(ish), cozy holiday young adult read with a little bit of a twist.
If anyone has read The Afterlife of Holly Chase, let us know what you think in the comments below! Comments also open to further book/movie/show recommendations, anything you’d like to see reviewed, or general feedback. We’d love to hear what you have to say!